Friday, January 4, 2013

More on Canon-Mac's resurgence

I wrote a lot today about Brett Haney breaking out of a slump to the tune of 23 points during the Canon-McMillan boys basketball team's 59-51 overtime win over Trinity on Friday night.

From a team aspect, the Big Macs have undergone a pretty nice turnaround, too.

Canon-Mac lost at Upper St. Clair, 64-32, on Dec. 21, a loss that head coach Rick Bell said, "was not a real good way to go into the Christmas season."

But after the break, the Big Macs responded with their most dominant performance of the season in a 76-42 dismantling of Northgate in the Trinity Christmas Tournament. Four players reached double figures. The Big Macs led by 27 at halftime.

"We just kept working, kept plugging," Bell said. "We had two really good practices, played really good in the Northgate game. I think we’re starting to get some confidence back."

That much was evident against Trinity, a team that started the season 7-1.

Canon-McMillan used a 9-0 run to build a 19-12 lead after one, getting a putback, a layup and a three-point play from senior forward Ryan Gillespie, who has taken over some of the leadership duties from Haney.

The Big Macs had a minor letdown in the second quarter, play Trinity even in the third and responded with a Haney-inspired push midway through the fourth.

Canon-McMillan held Trinity's Christian Koroly to nearly two-thirds of his scoring average. One goal, Bell said, was to keep Koroly scoreless from the free throw line. He was one for two.

"We could never get separation, but we felt like we were in control of the game," Bell said. We kind of felt, if we could get a one or a two-possession lead, we thought they might force some shots."

Canon-Mac got that two-possession lead -- 53-49 following a Haney layup at 2:41 of overtime -- and never looked back. Sure, Koroly scored on a layup. But those were the only two points Trinity had in overtime. And the Hillers also air-balled a pair of 3-pointers that ditched any thoughts of a comeback.

"And they’re too good (to be missing those shots)," Bell said. "If they’re shooting air-balls, we’re either playing great defense or we’re forcing them to make rushed decisions."

That Canon-Mac did. And it's a way of doing things that seemed impossible just two weeks ago.

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