Cougars clinch last second win
author: nathan mccarville | sports writer
green and gold with the two / nathan mccarville
Benjamin Hillis the hero for cougars
For the past two weekends the men’s basketball team has enjoyed relatively easy wins against their opponents, beginning their four-game winning streak against the Trinity Western Spartans at the Homecoming games held at the University of Regina, and ending it against the Brandon Bobcats, playing on the Bobcats own court. The season record thus far would have shown fans that the Cougars are among the elite teams in Canada West if they can secure wins with such certainty through the preceding weeks. However, this past weekend offered the Cougars their first equals of the season. With the coming of the Manitoba Bisons to the University of Regina, this past weekend’s games offered an excitement that fueled the crowd in no other way than a game like this can provide.
The first game, unfortunately, did not end with the most favourable result for the Cougars, the U of R’s home team losing by the slimmest of margins against the visiting Bisons. The first game on Nov. 16 ended with the result of 76-72 in favour of the Bisons. The game was an exciting nail biter of an event, apologizing for the cliched expression, the four-point difference between the two team’s scores can’t be described in many other ways. The leaders for points on the side of the Cougars, who were able to bring the score so close against the Bisons were Myles Hamilton with 14 points, Samuel Hillis with 12 points, and Brayden Kuski with another 12.
The first game’s excitement pales in comparison to that of the second. The Cougars preparations and coaching between the two games paid off winning the second home court game with the crowd cheering on their drives and defensive plays every step of the way. The Cougars started off strong, gaining a small lead early in the first quarter, though the Bisons quickly caught up with the Cougars, not letting the home team run away with the score too early on, the Bisons finally scoring some real points in the game after the Cougars had already attained 12 points.
The teams switched back and forth from being the point leader in the game, the two teams obviously very closely matched. The first quarter ended with the result of 20-14 in favour of the Cougars, though by halftime the difference in scores had narrowed and it was the Bisons who were now on top, the score resting at 42-37 going into the break. Though it wasn’t until halfway through the third quarter that the Cougars realized that they were in trouble. It was here, and throughout the fourth that the Cougars had seemed to hit somewhat of a wall against the Bisons. There came a point where an eight-point difference between the scores was the divide that the Cougars could not cross. No matter how many points the Cougars scored, the Bisons stayed ahead with just as many points. The deficit the Cougars faced, which ranged from five to eleven points, with an average of eight points throughout the periods was the feat the Cougars had to overcome as a team. The third period ended with an uneven score of 71-60 in favour of the Bisons. Though the Cougars brought the heat in the fourth, scoring 26 points in the period against the Bisons 14 points for the quarter. Leaders for the Cougars score included Myles Hamilton with 18 points, followed by Brayden Kuski with 14 points. Samuel Hillis scored 13 points for the game, followed directly by Greishe Clerjuste and Kameron Vales both with 12 points each.
It is always the team that wins the game, though there are always a few players who play with distinction or make the most valuable play of the game. That important play of the game does not go to one of the score leaders for this game in particular, but rather, Benjamin Hillis, who only had four points in the game, his final two points made the difference between another close loss, and the win that the men were able to get against the Bisons on Saturday. Benjamin scored the last two points when it counted. With only 11 seconds left in the game a fault in the Bisons possession of the ball occurred. Benjamin Hillis took advantage in the Bisons faltering in a pass resulting in his possession of the ball. Breaking away from the crowd of long armed opponents, Benjamin, the third-year guard and alumnus of Leboldus’ basketball program, took the opportunity for the lay-up and scored the final two points of the game, resulting in the bench and crowd exploding with cheers. Playing it cool, the team played the final 11 seconds, prudently delaying their celebrations until the end of the game.
After the big win by the smallest of margins, the team will enjoy a bye week this week. The next games the Cougars are set to play are against the MacEwan Griffins at the U of R’s own home court on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.