On the first day of the final month of the year, the UTM Eagles lost to a hungrier Lambton College Lions by a score of 78-65. Another misleading score that doesn’t quite tell the true story of the game. It was overall the Lions game but for stretches the Eagles gained tentative control. The Eagles lost their focus in the final minutes of each quarter and the Lions took advantage of these lapses. It’s a shame that their highly skilled play and true grit against the Lions physical paint presence was let down by two to three minute stretches of sloppy decisions and loss of concentration. The Eagles deserved a better outcome than the lopsided final score, especially the way the Eagles worked as a team, spreading the ball around and playing with the kind of unselfishness that wins games. Zamam Khan gave all his teammates assists with Matrix-like vision as his behind-the-back over-the-shoulder and through two defender passes found the open man at will. It’s important to notice the little man on every team which, for the Eagles, came in the form of the Mathushan Skrikannathasan. He was a constant annoyance to the Lions, as he was always at their feet scaring them into mistakes and turnovers and an energy boost for his teammates.
The Lions took the lead from tip-off, going on an 8-0 run over the first five minutes of the quarter, to which the Eagles replied with their own four-minute 11-3 run to make the score 11-11 with one minute left in the quarter. Here their mental focus wavered and they mismanaged both the clock and the ball and finished the quarter down four points at 15-11. The quarter was chippy and physical and set the tone for the rest of the game. Tempers flared, smack was talked and a lone Lion’s heckler in the crowd systematically took up public issue with each and every Eagles player on the court.
The Eagles came out gunning in the second however and earned a quick lead with simple but effective passing. One, two, three passes up the court and towards the net with high percentage shots near the rim. Khan took the lead with a bucket 15-16 early in the second and they would lead by six points 21-27 from Andreas Jankovic’s convincing finish through traffic. They could not manage to extend their lead but made up for their slow start by ending the first half with a 26-31 lead.
The Eagles played their best basketball from the end of the second and into the third quarter with strong team play and the explosive three ball from their ace long-range shooter Nicholas Kwantwi as he helped earn his team a 34-42 lead over the Lions. But this large lead was short lived. The Lions trapped the Eagles in their den and grounded them permanently. In a flurry of messy disorganized play from the Eagles which looked like a series of brain farts, their lead was shaved down to one point. They held fast to their lead for as long as possible, but their doom seemed imminent.
Their lead ended with the Lions opening fourth quarter bucket that made the score 52-50. The Lions would not relinquish the lead again after the first minute of the fourth quarter. The Eagles came within one at 60-61 with four minutes left in the game, but that would be the closest they would come in their well-fought loss.