Boys SPIRIT GAME: Handsworth vs. Aden Bowman (Saskatoon)

Written by: Scott Leigh and Will Lees - Handsworth grads 2006

The calm before the storm, with both squads warming up in the all white “No Regrets” Tees… and the crowd begins to roll in. In what has become an early season game to look forward to for both the Handsworth squad and the students, you can feel the excitement grow with each additional person who wanders through the infamous blue doors. This year on a chilly Vancouver afternoon, the Royals are welcoming Aden Bowman into their gym all the way from Saskatoon. 

First impressions - Aden Bowman appears to be undersized, and I would guess they are going to need to rely on their athleticism and pressure to keep up with the height of the Royals. 

The Royals get on the board first with a fundamental pump fake and easy finish at the rim. As expected Aden Bowman comes out of the gates with a full court press - expect pressure for the majority of the game to counter balance the height differential. A fast paced start to the game has Aden Bowman off to a quick 7-2 lead.

Royals look to counter and bring the home fans to their feet with a rapid crossover that sends the defender to the deck, but the following shot is emphatically blocked putting the momentum back in the visitors' favour. Aden Bowman take advantage of two quick possessions and increases their lead to 12-2.

With not much to cheer about in the early going, so Handsworth's Van Bylandt looks to take matters into his own hands, demanding the ball at centre and going into full Lebron mode with an acrobatic, circus lay up and the harm, compounded with an emphatic bicep flex to boot.  Aden Bowman answer with a lay up in the paint prompting Handsworth to call a timeout to compose the troops. It seems to work as the Royal come out, earn a steal and Watson throws down a heavy dunk on the fast break getting everyone in blue and gold to their feet and shaking the gym. Royals cut the difference to 6, with the visitors ahead 14-8.

Both teams looked to have settled their early first quarter nerves and are moving slower over centre in possession allowing picks and plays to formulate but the prairie boys are making the better of their chances and increase their lead to 26-15. As the quarter winds down the Royals take advantage of a late change of possession as Watters takes one step over the half court line and pulls up like Steph Curry and drains the deep, deep three! 

A quick push to start the second quarter gets the fans excited and the Royals within 4. Crazy P is making sure the fans stay engaged by firing t-shirts into the stands, and the players are doing their part by playing feisty fast-paced basketball. Loose balls, charges, lay ups in traffic, the compete level has been strong with bodies hitting the floor on virtually every single possession. Handsworth Coach Randy Storey supplied two of his kids to hold up the "D" and the Picket Fence when Crazy 'P' exhorted the crowd to support the Royals.

After falling behind early in the first quarter, Coach Storey clearly emphasized defence during his team talk as the Royals have come out covering all areas of the court forcing multiple turnovers and taking their first lead of the game, 32-30. The home crowd is fully behind the Royals and the visitors appear shaken, dropping yet another pass which goes the other way and the Royals go up 38-30. If there was ever a 6th man in BC high school basketball, it’s here at Handsworth. 

The Bears take a much needed timeout in an attempt to pull the plug on Handsworth’s recent dominance but the first a turnover leads to Handsworth gaining the largest lead of the game, 45-31. Aden Bowman earn a shooting foul going the other way and head to the line in an attempt to claw their way back into the game. At the end of the first half, it sits 47-34 Royals.

The Royals dance crew provide the half time entertainment busting out some elaborate fist pumps to drum and bass noises than can only be loosely described as 'music.' The home team and the visitors emerge from their respective locker rooms on either side of our commentary box to heat the muscles back up for the 2nd half. It's now 3 pm and past school hours so many of the student body have vacated the stands but those that remain are making some serious noise under the instructions of Crazy P! 

Second half is underway.
Handsworth take possession and quickly sink a lightly contested lay up and, like the first 2 quarters, get on the board first. The half time team talk from Aden Bowman Coach Redl seems to have been about using their pace as they waste no time attacking across center but a forced 3 sails past anything solid and into the hands of a welcoming Royal.
After possessions each way culminate in nothing added to the board, Papa Bear, (AB Coach) does a full line change, swapping out all 5 of his squad for a fresh set of players. Unorthodox but it seems to spark the Bears as a nice cut back to create space allows a pass over to the far corner where an over aggressive Royal fouls a 3 point attempt. A smooth up and through and he drains all 3 free throw attempts bringing the Saskatooners to within 14, down 51 to 37. 
A quick inbound and the Royals string together 3 fluid passes and Royals' Daniel S. pulls up with a defender fast approaching to knock down a trey cancelling out the 3 free throws, putting the lead back up to 17. That has clearly pumped up Crazy P who stands up, pulls out the drums and has the fans chanting "Let's Go Royals!"

The home team have been using their height and wingspan advantage to force the visitors into taking low percentage shots, including 3 back to back to back air ball 3 pointers with the Royals coming down with uncontested rebounds. Handsworth take possession but a sloppy over and back will give the ball right back to Aden Bowman, but neither coach is happy with what they are seeing and Handsworth call a timeout with the 3rd quarter winding down.

In the final seconds of the 3rd, Royals #1 attempts to recreate the incredible half court buzzer beater by Royals #9 but comes up short. One quarter remaining, Royal up 64 to 46.

To start the quarter, the Royals and Bears trade buckets with Royals #14 making a strong baseline move to the basketball for 2, and the Bears countering with an open 3 put down by Bears' Nightraveller. Bears regain possession after a fearless defensive rebound by and Bears #11 sinks a deep 3 to bring the visitors bench to their feet. Going the other way, a strong offensive rebound, hoop, and harm by the Royals brings the lead back up to 20, before the Bears' drained yet another deep 3! These Bears do not plan on laying down and hibernating without a fight!

Aden Bowman slowly chip away at the lead, bringing it down to 13 points, at 74 to 61, the slimmest lead since half time but a big 3 fromHandsworth with just over 4 minutes remaining and a collective sigh is released from the Bears' bench. Final minute and the lead sits at 15 in favour of the hosts, an insurmountable lead for the visitors and it becomes evident that the height, and strength of the Handsworth Royals was the difference today. The Bears, evidently well drilled, fundamentally sound, and full of fight got out to an early lead but were eventually overpowered by the sheer size of Handsworth. The last remaining seconds tick down and showing true sportsmanship, the Bears turn to shake hands and congratulate the victors, a strong display of what the 'No Regrets' tournament is all about. The final whistle blows and the scoreboard reads "Handsworth 82 | Aden Bowman 68."

No Regrets.

Jamie Keast