Defence key to victory

Gaels extend winning streak to three with road wins

Sukhpreet Singh has had a strong opening to the season, leading the team with 19 points per game.
Sukhpreet Singh has had a strong opening to the season, leading the team with 19 points per game.

Last weekend, men’s basketball continued their dominating play, taking down the Nipissing Lakers (0-4) and Laurentian Voyageurs (0-2) on the road.

In their first match-up, the Gaels (3-0) travelled to Sudbury to face off against a struggling Laurentian squad. 

After some defensive miscues, the team was down 19-13. Led by fourth-year players Sukhpreet Singh and Ryall Stroud, the Gaels pushed back offensively, putting up 26 points in the second quarter alone to lead 39-36 at the half.

“The first quarter was rough for us. We got off to a slow start defensively,” Singh said. However, an improved effort level pushed the Gaels to victory. “Guys started to want to play defence  and that really made the difference.”

In the third quarter, the Gaels extended their lead to 10. 

Fourth-year guard Patrick Street scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half, proving a constant thorn in the Voyageurs’ side. 

Defence  was vital in the second half, as the Gaels held Laurentian to 32 per cent from the field, and only 18 per cent from behind the three-point line.

Despite their strong effort, five second-half turnovers were the Gaels’ Achilles heel. Down the stretch, with the game tied at 68 with little time left, Singh was able to get into the lane and draw a foul, shooting two free throws to win the game.

“[Laurentian has] die-hard fans that really get in your ear,” Singh said. “You want to be in a position to make those kinds of shots as a player. It’s  pretty nerve racking, but you know you have got to hit a shot and not let your teammates down.”

After hitting one of two, the Gaels would win 69-68 in the tough Laurentian environment. 

The next night, the team faced off against the Nipissing Lakers. Starting slow out of the gate again, going down 23-18, the Gaels knew they had to change their approach. 

“We really cracked down defensively after that first quarter,” Singh said.

Strong physical play held the Lakers at only 30 per cent from the field the rest of the game. 

The Gaels were sparked offensively by fourth-year guard Mark Paclibar, who scored a game high of 16 points. 

His efforts were matched by second-year forward Tanner Graham, who scored 11 points in his 23 minutes of action. 

Through three games, it’s clear the Gaels are gifted offensively. But to win games and be successfulin the OUA, Singh knows that defence will be key. 

“We know we can score the ball, so it’s all about holding the other teams in check.”

Starting 3-0 has the team confident at the moment, and  Singh has been a key player in the team’s early season success. Through the team’s three games, he has 19 points per game, 7.3 rebounds, 2.3 assist and 2.3 steals.

For Singh, confidence in himself has allowed him to get off to a red hot start.

“I know I have the potential to score, rebound, and make guys on our team better [finding them for open shots]. If I’m not on the floor, I’m always there for the guys on the bench.”

This weekend, the Gaels will be tested by two of the top teams in the country — the #8 McMaster Mauraders on Friday night, followed by the #4 Brock Badgers.

Singh knows that while his team is not favoured to win, they will put up a fight.

“We are just looking to get this upset,” Singh said. “We are going in as the underdogs, we have nothing to lose while they have everything to lose.” 

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