By Greg Price
With the most adversity the St. Mary’s Celtics boys basketball team has faced to date this season, it may very well be the defining moment in how it responds, as the squad faces the home stretch to 1A zones.
The Celtics suffered a three-game losing streak last week factoring in River Ridge Boys Basketball League and a tournament in Black Diamond on the weekend. The two losses in River Ridge play were against teams the Celtics beat easily earlier in the season by 30 and 15-point margins.
“The whole week was a week of struggles for us,” said Ken Gabruck, head coach of the St. Mary’s Celtics boys basketball team of hs squad’s play from Jan. 29-Feb. 3. “I think we can attribute it to a combination of things. Lack of practice with exams, we had a flu bug hit the team badly and teams are preparing for us better and our offence was maybe a bit too predictable. Some of it is overconfidence with the players too.”
The Celtics kicked off the trying week last Monday with a 78-56 loss to Senator Gershaw Gators on the road.
“They got a 10-15 point lead on us early in the game. We made a comeback to get it within five with five minutes remaining in the game. But the kids sort of lost trust with each other and maybe tried to do too much themselves,” said Gabruck. “Gershaw played well and went on another run on us.”
Mason Muller scored 11 points in the game and Jobert Cruz had 10 points.
Last Wednesday saw a road game with Foremost and a 57-54 loss.
“We just didn’t come out prepared. They jumped on us big time in the first half and we were down by 18. We got it down to two points with under 30 seconds to play, but couldn’t get it done,” said Gabruck. “These losses showed how these teams prepared for us after beating them by wide margins earlier.”
Muller notched 16 points in the loss with Cruz adding 14.
The losing streak continued for the Celtics as they played its first game of its Black Diamond tournament run, dropping a close 66-64 contest to a private 3A school (FFCA).
“The bad thing with that one is we had a 21-point lead at the half. Credit to the other team, they put a little bit of pressure on us and we weren’t able to handle it. Being up 21 points at the half, if you win the first five minute of the third quarter, the game should be over. But they outscored us 29-9 in the third quarter,” said Gabruck.
Cruz poured in 24 points and Muller chipped in 10 points.
The Celtics on the consolation side, then beat up on its opposition, starting with a 88-36 victory over Sundre.
Carl Rodrigo netted 16 points and Cobe Cobarubas hit for 14 points.
The consolation championship saw the Celtics beat Vulcan 106-59.
Emmanuel Adra scored 19 points for the Celtics and Peter Klassen added 11 points.
The tournament left Gabruck with a ‘what if’ feeling as he saw the teams compete on the championship side of the bracket.
“I definitely think if we had won our first game, it definitely would have put us in the final. We would have been in a good position in the final,” said Gabruck.
The Celtics hosted the Vauxhall Vikings on Monday night as the Celtics looked to sweep the season series in league play. The team is also prepping for a tournament at Immanuel Christian on the weekend.
“That will be a tough tournament with a lot of 2A/3A/4A teams,” said Gabruck.
For now, Gabruck is hoping the Celtics use this past week as a learning experience that no game, no matter how easily perceived at first is going to be handed to you.
“These losses have come at a good time. If we are ever going to suffer three losses in a row, now rather than later is a better time,” said Gabruck. “We have to tweak our offence a bit and the kids have to become more prepared for games. In all three of those losses, our fast-break game was nonexistent and that’s our bread and butter. Without that, we weren’t able to wear down teams like we normally do. We kind of got that going again on Saturday with our two wins. We have a tough road ahead of us with a lot of good 1A teams in the South. There is a possibility of three seeds going (to provincials), but there are more than three really good teams in the South.”