High-flying Falcons slam Knights

Basketball: Foothills Athletic Council final Saturday at HTA

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 06:00 am

Holy Trinity Academy James Hielema is guarded closely by Foothills Falcon Coal Clark Feb. 26 at Holy Trinity Academy.
Holy Trinity Academy James Hielema is guarded closely by Foothills Falcon Coal Clark Feb. 26 at Holy Trinity Academy.
Bruce Campbell/OWW

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The Holy Trinity Academy Knights were travelling along nicely in their senior boys basketball game when suddenly a high-flying six-foot Falcon slammed them last week.

The Knights were derailed when Foothills Falcon point guard Jamie Derochie hit a streaking Hunter Karl who soared to slam a dunk over the Knights Kade McCormick to give Foothills a 20-18 lead early in the second quarter. Foothills never trailed again en route to the 77-64 victory Feb. 26 at HTA.

“We were kind of lacking energy and I thought that brought some energy back,” Karl said of his highlight reel slam. “We really wanted to play defence after that.”

Ironically, McCormick had rejected a Karl shot just minutes before the dunk. A play that got Karl’s respect and the HTA fans on their feet.

“He got me on that one,” Karl said with a laugh. “I didn’t think he was going to get it. Wow I was impressed. I told him, ‘good play buddy.”

The Knights were able to cut the lead to six at 32-36 with 2:30 left in the half when Jared Helinsky hit a three-pointer from Naptha. The Falcons would take a 37-28 lead into the locker room at halftime.

HTA hung with the Falcons, down by a dozen after three quarters. Then Karl showed he could also hit from the outside.

Derochie had a steal in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter and drove to the top of the key. The shifty guard looked one way and then dished a pass to the trailing Karl who hit nothing but net from beyond the arc to put the Falcons up 61-46 for three of his team-high 25 points.

The Knights wouldn’t get any closer than 10 as the Falcons clinched first-place in the Foothills Athletic Council with the victory. Noah Wilkie — who also had a dunk — finished with 18 points for the Falcons. Derochie had 15.

Knights point guard Dylan Wheeler led all scorers with 33, including a trio of three-point bombs. He would trade all those points for a win against the Falcons.

“I just want to win,” Wheeler said. “I think we have the skills to beat them. I think we will definitely meet them in the final, we just have to work some things out (for the final).”

He called Derochie the best defensive guard the Knights have seen all year.

The Falcons were more opportunistic than a group of reporters at an all-you-can eat buffet —everything that was available they grabbed.

“They capitalize on every mistake,” said Knights head coach Sam Aiello. “Every time we turned the ball over, it was an easy basket.”

He said the Falcons also capitalized on their experience with the likes of the smooth-playing Derochie.

“He’s a three-year player with a lot of experience who always plays us tough — and I wouldn’t expect anything less from him,” Aiello said. “We’re a young team that can compete with them, but they are just a little bit more experienced.”

Barring an upset of Hoosier-like proportions, the two teams will meet on Saturday afternoon in the Foothills Athletic Council final.

Aiello has a week to figure out how to beat the Falcons — something he hasn’t done in seven years.

“I don’t know if we can fix it in a week,” Aiello said with a chuckle. “But we want to play teams like Foothills because that will only make us better.”

Falcons head coach Amron Gwilliam was pleased with the victory, but would have liked to have seen more consistency from his squad.

“We had some nice things happen, but I have such high expectations for the guys, I expect more out of them,” Gwilliam said. “We had some stretches in the game where we played very well — we moved our feet defensively, we helped defensively, we contested well and we rebounded well.

“When we do those four things, we can be really good, but we had a lot of the game when our help-side rotations just weren’t good… We were a little bit lacking defensively at times tonight.”

He gave full credit to the Knights, who finished second in the FAC with a 6-2 record.

“We should know by now after all these years, HTA is never going to quit,” Gwilliam said. “I don’t expect it to be any different if we see them in the final.”

The Falcons got a substantial boost in their confidence when they downed the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs 89-83 Friday night in Calgary. The Bulldogs have an honourable mention in the Alberta 4A high school rankings.

The Knights will play the Oilfields Drillers, who finished in third place with a 3-5 record, in the FAC semifinal tonight (March 5) at HTA at 5:30 p.m. In the other semifinal, the Falcons host on March 5 the winner of the Strathmore and Strathcona-Tweedsmuir Spartans play-in game.

The gold medal game is at HTA Saturday at 4 p.m.


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