Game of the Week - Written by Kram Staff on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 1:45 - 0 Comments
Timberwolves Improve to 4-2
With big man Colin O’Neil on the sidelines with an injury Bishop McNally Timberwolves’ forward Mathieu Kemba knew that guarding the paint would fall mostly on his shoulders when his team faced the Lester B. Pearson Patriots on Tuesday evening.
The task was a difficult one, especially considering Kemba had to battle against Patriots’ centre Efue N’Kemka, a physical 6’6″ 240 pound post player who’s extremely hard to handle.
But Kemba, a 6’4″ 194 pound forward, was up for the challenge. Taking a step back from his usual role as the team’s designated point getter, Kemba embraced the role of a bruiser to help his team earn a hard-fought 88-75 win to improve the Timberwolves’ record to 4-2.
“It was hell,” said Kemba with a slight grin. “I was getting bruised, banged up and thrown around but I just stuck with it and boxed out and helped my team help side.”
But his teammates picked up the offensive slack by spreading around the offence. Forward Lucas Hesse scored all of his 21 points in the first half, including five 3-pointers.
Cristian Astera scored 20 points, 18 of which came in the second half.
Kemka led the Patriots’ offense with 22 points.
Kemba, who averages 25 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists added 16 points for the Timberwolves.
The Timberwolves’ offence got rolling right from the opening tip-off. By the time the first quarter ended they held a 23-16 lead, which they stretched to 33-22 going into the halftime break.
But Patriots’ coach Bill Mitchell changed up his defence in the second half, implementing a full-court press that gave the Timberwolves plenty of trouble.
The adjustment allowed the Patriots to claw their way back in the game. The defensive pressure created turnovers that the Patriots converted into points. Midway through the 4th quarter the game was tied at 65-65.
But the Patriots seemed to have used up all their energy trying to get back in the game, and when the Timberwolves finally seemed to solve the pressure defence they regained the momentum down the stretch to close out the victory.
“They’re a pretty good team and their height really affects people and if you underestimate them they can beat you,” said Kemba. “We gave up the lead but we fought through it and that’s what we needed.”
A win against a quality opponent will give the Timberwolves some confidence heading into the second half of the regular season. They posses plenty of skill and quickness to challenge most of the top-ranked teams in the city.
“I think that if we play together we can I think we can take second in the North and really compete with Grandin and Churchill,” said Kemba.
Playing together means playing within their limits and according to the game plan laid out by the coaching staff. They’re not a team that can bully their way to a victory on talent alone, but if they stick to the game plan and play to their strengths they can definitely take a run at anyone in the league.
“We’re a run-and-gun team, we’re not really a half court team because we’re smaller so we can’t really put guys down low and in the high post, so we get out in transition and run on them and wear them down,” said Kemba.
“I think we can reach provincials. We had a starting loss against ND (Notre Dame), it wasn’t our best game of the year, they beat us by two and it’s because we didn’t stick to our game plan. We tried to do it on our own and we didn’t listen to our coach.”