Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Rainmakers open up AAA Provincials with thrilling 52-51 victory

It was some last second defence, the trademark of the Charles Hays Rainmakers that secured their opening day victory in the AAA Provincial High School Basketball tournament in Langley on Wednesday morning.

The icebreaker for both Charles Hays and Surrey's top ranked Fleetwood Park Dragons came at the early hour of 8:30 AM.

And despite the breakfast time match up and the nerves that might come from an opening game at the Province's top basketball tournament, neither team really looked out of sync as play began.

A fast paced first quarter saw the two teams trade leads, wrapping up the first ten minutes deadlocked at 18 points each. The opening quarter providing a bit of a glimpse of the tight nature of play to come over the remaining thirty minutes on the court.

Quarter two was virtually a mirror image of the first ten minutes, the two teams testing each others defences, seeking ways to crack the perimeter, with the Fleetwood Park squad putting away a pair of key shots towards the final minutes that provided them with a four point advantage heading into the half  with a 32 to 28 lead.

Panic however, is not something that is common with Rainmaker teams and with a half time review of the game plan, Mel and Ryan Bishop's squad came ready to take the play to the Surrey team in the first ten minutes of the second half.

The flow of the game was very much back and forth, with the two squads firing off a number of attempts at buckets, some more successful than others.

The Rainmakers for the most part found the required balance between offence and defensive play, a trait which paid a dividend in the last second of the third quarter when the Rainmakers found the range to take the lead at 40 - 39 at three quarter time.

The confidence of their third quarter carried over into the final ten minutes of the game, with the Rainmakers more than able to shake of any kind of doubts off, after a pair of killer three shots from Fleetwood Park at the eight minute mark of the final quarter.

That scoring surge pushed the Surrey squad into the lead, a five point burst that had the possibility of deflating the Rainmakers as the two teams worked their way into the last six minutes of game.

However, a refocus to the work on the court quickly reversed that advantage, with the Rainmakers battling back to pull within one point with a clutch three point shot to turn the pressure back over to the Dragons.

With the three on the board, the two teams entered the final minute of play with Fleetwood Park holding the 51-50 advantage.

The last sixty seconds of tension filled basketball had supporters of both teams on their feet.

With the larger congregation of Fleetwood Park supporters matched in volume by those of the Rainmakers in alternate chants of urgency for offensive play; mixed with yells for defence.

All of it providing the soundtrack to what was a wild finish, as the Rainmakers grabbed a 52-51 lead with only fifteen seconds to go.

Fleetwood Park called a timeout to plot the last possession of the game, while the Rainmakers reviewed their defensive assignments that would be the difference between a victory or a loss.

As the ball was brought into play, the Rainmakers held to the position play, denying the Dragons any kind of lane towards the basket, keeping everything that was possible to the perimeter.

As time wound down, a last gasp desperation shot fell short and the Rainmakers had claimed their first victory of the four day tournament.

With the victory, the Rainmakers now move into day two with an important confidence boost as they await their 2:45 start at the Langley Events Centre Gymnasium.

Who they will play will not be known, until the evening schedule of play comes to an end.

You can follow the progress of the AAA Provincial Tournament from our anchor page, where you can find results, items of interest on the tournament and our link to Streaming Video for Rainmaker games through the week.

For a review of our past Rainmaker items from the path to the Tournament see our Rainmaker Archive page.

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