Thursday, March 10, 2016

Rainmakers edged out in tournament opener, head to Consolation round for play on Thursday

It's over to the Consolation round
for the CHSS Rainmakers
after a tough 65-63 loss
to Abbotsford on Wednesday night
Opening night at the AAA Senior Boys Provincials saved the best for last and while Wednesday evening's finale for Day One provided viewers with some exciting basketball, for fans of the Charles Hays Rainmakers the final result of the night brought a bit of disappointment as well.

The latter owing to a result which found the Makers on the wrong side of a 65-63 decision to the Abbotsford Panthers, a game which delivered the most exciting moments in the final few minutes, with the Fraser Valley squad claiming the final lead and victory in the final five seconds of play.

For the Rainmakers all the trends were heading the right way in the final five minutes of play in the fourth, the team having battled back from large Abbotsford leads through the night, pulled even at 54-54 midway through the final quarter, taking the lead shortly after that at 57-54, the two teams trading opportunities to bring the game to a 63-63 draw with but half a minute to go.

And while they had a few chances to grab the lead back, in the end it was a solid push back by Abbotsford that secured the win with Chase Claypool a dominant player on the night for the Panthers taking the winning shot, making for a major upset in Day action action as the Number 13 Panthers grabbed their bragging rights for the tournament opener.

The Abbotsford player had been pegged as one to watch in Sunday's preview show and he lived up to the billing, controlling the play for much of his time in the mix, he seemed comfortable at both ends of the court and clearly was the Panthers "go to guy" on the night, as team mates continued to feed him the ball through much of the game.

The Panthers executed their game plan almost to perfection for the first three quarters, holding much of the edge through the game, building leads of up to nine points at times through the first thirty minutes. Leading 21-16 after the first ten minutes, building to a 38-31 lead by the half.

That control of the flow of play by Abbotsford would prove frustrating for the Charles Hays Seniors, as the Panthers kept them to perimeter shots and clogged lanes for much of the evening, at times triple teaming the Rainmakers main offensive threat in Justin McChesney.

As the Rainmakers found the Panthers pulling ahead they tended to seek out the big shots from outside the three point line, a risk that at times would pay off, but in most cases resulted in turnovers to the Abbotsford team who took advantage of those opportunities as they came about.

By Three quarter time the Panthers squad had returned to an eight point lead, looking confident as they came back out for the final ten minutes of play.

The Rainmakers however found their game in the final frame, connecting on passes, making key shots when openings were offered, slowly chipping away at the Abbotsford lead, seeming to rattle the Panthers more and more as each minute began to pass by.

By the two minute mark it seemed that all the momentum had shifted to the Rainmaker side, they strong had ball control on the court, solid rebounding at both ends and they had their looks at the basket. But just as it seemed as though they were set to push their lead, the ball started to bounce the other way again, shots clanked off the rim, deflected off the backboard and into Panther hands.

Abbotsford held off the oncoming Rainmaker attack and managed to slow the game down enough to regain their composure, setting the scene for a frantic final minute, delivering the Panthers to the final 65-63 score and an advance into day two of the Championship round.

In a thriller of a finish the Abbotsford Panthers claimed a 65-63 victory
over the Rainmakers on Wednesday in theAAA Provincials 

For the Rainmakers it's now on to the consolation round, with Nanaimo first up for Thursday's return to the court with a noon hour tip off.  

While there will be some disappointment in the opening round setback, Wednesday did highlight how the Charles Hays squad made it to the Provincials, with a number of Makers making their mark in game one.

Justin McChesney had a strong game at both ends of the court, accounting for much of the Rainmaker scoring and providing for some key defensive rebounds and denials that kept the Panthers from running away with the flow of the game. Such was the compliment to his game by the opposing squads that for most of the game he was battling two, sometimes three Abbotsford defenders for space in the key.

There were other significant contributions on the night as well, Cole Marogna, Quinn Leighton Nicolis Campbell, Skylar Wesley and Bobby Bob, were just some of the Rainmaker names mentioned frequently through the night, each grabbed some ink on the score sheet and found frequent looks that could have changed the outcome if not for a bad bounce or a key defensive play in the Panther end.

Chances are that a two point loss hurts a lot more than a blow out defeat, players tend to relive the close ones much more than games that get away. Yet there was much to like about the way the team handled the adversity in the early going and mounted the fourth quarter charge that came up but one shot short.

The final ten minutes offered a good look at the comeback abilities of the Rainmaker squad, featuring as impressive a push back as there may have been all year. There's still lots of basketball ahead for the Senior Boys and while it won't deliver them to the destination that they had hoped for when they tipped off, the rewards for hard play and the shared experience of a big time tournament is still there to be found and enjoyed.

You can follow the path of the Rainmakers through the tournament through the CHSS Twitter feed.

As well, we have updates available on our tournament archive page, with Rainmaker scores and items of interest from the tournament through the week.

For a  look back at the Rainmakers season see our archive page.

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