The Kwalikum Kondors senior boys basketball learned the value of defence.
Trailing 40-27 at the end of the first quarter, the short-benched Kondors dug deeper and redeemed themselves in the next two quarters to upset Brooks Thunderbirds 77-74 in overtime in a AA North Island League game at KSS gym last Wednesday afternoon.
Head coach Taylor Wilson credited his players for not giving up and battling through against a team that had speed and some good three-point shooters.
“These guys they run, run, run,” said Wilson. “They never let you down. We’re short on the bench right now and they came up big in the third. It was big comeback for us. We held them, I think to just five points, maybe. “
The Kondors closed the gap in the third quarter with strong defence. They denied the Thunderbirds any second chances offensively and along with some scoring off the dribble and timely outside shots, the Kondors ended the quarter just trailing 46-49.
Both teams traded baskets after that and things got a lot more exciting. Thunderbirds led 68-65 lead with just 30 seconds left to play but Kondors Matt O’Reilly banked in a shot from behind the arc to tie it up with nine seconds left on the clock. The Kondors were able to stop Thunderbirds in the dying seconds to force the match into overtime.
The Kondors continued to gain confidence in extra time and made crucial baskets that saw them grab a narrow 74-71 lead, which they defended well to eventually win the game.
“We made some key shots and played defence, that’s all we did,” said Wilson. “We weren’t making any shots in the first half and we have guys that can make threes. All it takes is for a a few to go down and they start to have confidence. They played really well.”
The Kondors were led by Yianni Giakoumakis who had 32 points with O’Reilly scoring 15 points and Braeden Leary, who also made a couple of vital three points shots down the stretch, had 14 points. Elijah Wroe and Ethan McDonald each banked in 12 points.
The Kondors improved to two wins and one loss and share third spot with the Thunderbirds in the league standings. They will be back home on Dec. 17 to host Duncan Christian at 7 p.m.
In other action, Ballenas Whalers sank the Alberni Armada 94-79 in Triple A North Island League play, held at Alberni District Secondary Gym last Wednesday night.
Jayden Hafner sparked the Whalers offence with 27 points with Demar Hohnstein chipping in 20 points. Bruce McCabe had 14 points and Chester Garviles 10 points.
The Whalers are now 2-0 this season and aim to extend their win streak to three when they play their first home game, Dec. 17 against Carihi Towhees at Ballenas gym at 7 p.m.