The YRHS Raiders senior boys basketball team lived to fight another day thanks to their impressive 61-59 come-from-behind victory over the Balgonie Greenall Griffins at the conference playoffs in Balgonie this past weekend.
The Raiders trailed by as many as 13 points in the third quarter before battling all the way back to take the lead on a Ryan Krochak 18-footer with just two seconds to go to silence the home Balgonie crowd despite their team having one last chance to make a basket.
Two seconds was not enough for Balgonie to get a quality shot off, however, giving the Raiders a 61-59 win.
The win against Balgonie was key as it allowed the Raiders to advance further into the conference playoffs and, as a result, clinch their spot in the regional tournament next weekend.
But what’s more important is the resilience and strength the team showed by coming back from a 13 point deficit instead of admitting defeat, something that head coach Jason Payne noticed right away. “I think we showed some growth and resilience,” said the Raiders head coach about his young basketball team. “We were down 13 in the third quarter and instead of folding up and saying this game is done we dug in and dug ourselves out of the hole with really solid defence and converting on their turnovers.”
With the win against Balgonie under their belts, the Raiders then had to face the Weyburn Eagles in the conference finals to determine seeding; a game in which Weyburn won easily. “They absolutely destroyed us,” laughed Payne.
However, Payne also feels that playing against a team as veteran-laden as Weyburn shows that the two teams are playing for something a little bit different. “We’re playing for experience for next year, they’re going for it all,” said the Raiders head coach.
The Raiders bench boss also acknowledged the skill and leadership that Weyburn has. “Veteran leadership tends to show through in March,” mentioned Payne, continuing, “They have a couple of Tiger Wiliams’ nephews, twins (Rhett and Reece Williams), at guard that are fantastic. They’re just unbelievable and they gave our guards lots of problems.”
As for what he hopes his team will achieve come Regionals this upcoming weekend, one can’t say Payne set lofty goals. “We certainly want to win our first game in Regionals. We play P.A. Carlton who we had a good game against at our tournament so we’re hoping to get a win there and then take a shot at St. Mary who is number two.”