Wellington slips by Durham for second win of CBL season

Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal

GUELPH — Wellington BC had to wait beyond the final whistle Saturday night at the Guelph Gryphons Athletics Centre to find out if they’d posted their second win in the Canadian Basketball League.

“The games are very competitive — the guys know each other,” Wellington coach Butch Carter said after his team edged Durham United 89-88.

“We’ve got a great coach and we’ve been bonding together as a team,” a hobbled Isiah Thomas of Wellington said. He hurt his left ankle in a scramble for the ball in the fourth quarter. “We’ve been doing all the right things to move forward. I’m glad for this win and I just want to keep moving forward.”

On the final play of the game, Durham United drove to the Wellington basket and attempted to put in a shot that would’ve given the visitors the victory. Wellington captain Devon Scott slapped the backboard in his effort to stop the shot. The shot didn’t drop, but Durham felt there should be either a foul or a goaltending call on Scott and one referee had signaled that that was the case.

But the men in grey got together and decided that the shot was taken just after the buzzer sounded and the red lights in the backboards went on signalling the end of play. That meant no goaltending or foul and also meant another win for Wellington.

“That’s two in a row,” Carter said. “We’ve changed the team up a little bit and my guys were a little tired. I’ve got to get a couple more guys in, hopefully this week because my bench is short.”

“We have some talented guys and we work extremely hard every day to just keep doing the small things so when it’s time for us to play we’ll be able to pull the big wins out,” Thomas said.

Wellington used seven players Saturday while Durham had nine.

The game was a close one throughout as Durham led 22-21 at the end of the first quarter and Wellington was up 47-44 at halftime and 68-62 after the third quarter.

The fourth quarter was a see-saw affair with both teams taking turns ahead, but neither able to put the game away. Then, with 58 seconds to play, Wellington was handed the break it needed when Jeremiah Williams got to shoot three foul shots — one for a technical against Durham and two for a foul when Williams and a Durham opponent dove for a loose ball.

Williams led Wellington with 25 points while Isiah Thomas had 16, Scott 14 and Gilbert Gyamfi 11. Aldor Kola had seven rebounds, Williams six steals, Thomas four assists and Dominique Walls and Gyamfi three blocks apiece.

Luke Moyer netted 22 points for Durham while Jonathan Blake had 18, Tequilan Zwarych 12 and David Tucker 11. Blake had eight rebounds while Kregg Jones had three blocks and Tucker and Zwarych each had four steals.

Unofficially, Scarborough leads the league at 9-2 and is followed by Durham at 7-3, Hamilton at 2-7 and Wellington at 2-8.

“Once we start taking the small negatives out, we’re going to be a great team,” Thomas said. “We’ve got to keep communicating. We’ve got to keep doing team-bonding type things and we’ve got to keep positive and keep heading in the right direction.”

With four teams in the league, players and coaches are going to get used to each other’s tendencies in a hurry.

“I think that creates an atmosphere where we can see if a player is getting better,” Carter said. “I think Dominique Walls is better than when we started. I just think it forces people to get better and we have to get better at helping Devon. Durham shades him and brings another guy.

“We’ve got to grow. I think the challenge is the coach has got to grow with a better scheme.”

Wellington and Hamilton are to meet twice next weekend as they’re to play Friday at Hamilton at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at the Gryphons Athletics Centre at 7 p.m.