Gryphon hoops men rally to top Algoma

GUELPH – A rally in the second half allowed the Guelph Gryphons to slip by the Algoma Thunderbirds 77-72 in OUA men’s basketball play Friday night at the Guelph Gryphons Athletics Centre and move into a tie for the sixth and final playoff berth in the West Division.

“In the previous four games, our effort and intensity was consistent,” said Gryphon coach Chris O’Rourke. “In the first half today we came out flat and we had some lulls and they took advantage of us. Our intensity and effort wasn’t there. In the third quarter, we grinded and our intensity was a lot better and it put us in a better position to try and take control of the game.”

After leading 19-17 at the end of the first quarter, the Gryphs trailed 39-32 at halftime thanks largely to a 14-1 run by Algoma early in the second quarter. The hosts scored the first nine points of the second half to shoot ahead before the teams battled fairly evenly throughout the remainder of the quarter. Algoma carried a 59-58 lead into the final quarter. The teams traded baskets until the Gryphs scored six consecutive points to extend their lead to five points and they’d never trail again.

The Gryphs shot 33 per cent in the first half and 44 in the second.

“We keep track of paint touches and we got 30 paint touches in the first half, but we just couldn’t finish anything,” O’Rourke said. “We couldn’t finish inside. A lot of guys sparked us – Drew (Walford) sparked us, Shawn (Carey) sparked us, Banky (Alade) sparked us, J Wall (Jonathan Wallace), TB (Taylor Boers) sparked us. They all did at different times and gave us nice sparks at the offensive end and at the defensive end. We played like a team.”

Wallace led Guelph with 16 points while Daniel Dooley had 13, Alade 12 and Boers, Walford and Kieran Naus eight apiece. Walford grabbed 13 rebounds while Alade had nine and Boers had four assists. Walford had three steals and two blocks while Carey also had two blocks.

Ian Nash hit for a game-high 19 points for Algoma while Nathan Riley and Cailum White each had 12 and Reng Gum had nine. Gum also had 12 rebounds and two blocks while Riley had four assists and three blocks and Damian Okungbowa had four steals.

The win was the second in a row for the Gryphs and third of nine games played in 2018.

“We’ve been playing well for the last five games and it’s only equated in two wins,” O’Rourke said. “The previous three games our intensity and effort was really good – against Brock twice and against Windsor. Today, the second half was a lot better and like I said to the guys, we came out with our B game and our C game in the first half and we played better in the second half.”

After the Gryphs started 2018 with a 96-85 win over the Lakehead Thunderwolves at Thunder Bay, the Gryphs dropped six in a row as they lost 87-67 to Lakehead the night after the win, 83-65 at home to Laurier Golden Hawks, 96-92 at home to Windsor Lancers, 99-80 to Western Mustangs at London, 99-88 at home to Brock Badgers and 93-80 to the Badgers at Brock. They followed that with a pair of wins at home as they defeated the McMaster Marauders 83-80 last Saturday and Algoma Friday night.

With the win, the Gryphs move into a tie for sixth in the West with McMaster with identical 5-14 records while Algoma is eighth at 4-15.

Brock leads the division at 17-2 and they’re followed by Western (12-7), Windsor (10-9), Laurier (9-11), Waterloo Warriors (7-12), Guelph, McMaster, Algoma and Lakehead (2-17).

The Gryphs have five games to go in their regular season starting with another game with Algoma Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Guelph Gryphons Athletics Centre.

“It is tough,” O’Rourke said of playing the same team on back-to-back nights. “We had to do it at Lakehead and we played really well Friday night and then laid a dud the second night. It’s a mental grind and that’s kind of what the picture of the first half was. We weren’t focused. We had too many cobwebs going on between the ears.

“We’ve got to wake up tomorrow and it’s a totally new day. It’s 0-0. We’ve gained a game, but our backs are still against the wall and we just have to keep reminding ourselves of that and be hungry.”


Gryphons 77 Thunderbirds 72
First: Algoma 17; Guelph 19
Second: Algoma 22; Guelph 13
Third: Algoma 20; Guelph 26
Fourth: Algoma 13; Guelph 19
Field Goals: Algoma 25-69; Guelph 29-75
Field-Goal Percentage: Algoma 36.2; Guelph 38.7
Three-Pointers: Algoma 6-19; Guelph 6-21
Three-Point Percentage: Algoma 31.6; Guelph 28.6
Free Throws: Algoma 16-25; Guelph 13-21
Free-Throw Percentage: Algoma 64.0; Guelph 61.9
Rebounds: Algoma 38; Guelph 47
Assists: Algoma 11; Guelph 9
Turnovers: Algoma 12; Guelph 16
Points off Turnovers: Algoma 14; Guelph 2
Second-Chance Points: Algoma 4; Guelph 18
Bench Points: Algoma 23; Guelph 29
  • Guelph Sports Journal