The SSS senior boys basketball team lost two straight games in their zone competition on Friday evening to fall short of making it to provincials.
Up first, a game against the Prince Rupert Rainmakers, who brought a deep bench and a lengthy frontcourt to a raucous Smithers Secondary gymnasium.
The visitors built up and early lead over the Gryphons, behind the play of their 6’6” centre, who was an unstoppable force in the paint on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
He made it difficult for the Gryphons to penetrate the lane and score easy buckets.
With the Rainmakers up 15 points by the beginning of the second quarter, the Gryphons held themselves in and made a few small runs, but they couldn’t put a dent in the lead.
Forward Matthew Fowler did his best to counteract the height of the Rainmakers frontcourt, tallying a number of blocks en route to a near triple-double and Aro Mac didn’t miss a shot all game, but it wasn’t enough.
The Rainmakers pulled away in the second for a 17 point victory.
“I thought we moved the ball well and rebounded pretty well, but we didn’t have the bench to stay with them.” head coach Mike Fraser said.
The loss meant the Gryphons had to win against Caledonia to stay in the tournament.
In the early going, it looked as if the Gryphons would stay with Caledonia but again, tired legs caught up with them in the second half and their defence suffered as a result.
Caledonia cruised to set up a best-of-three matchup against Prince Rupert on Saturday and Sunday.
Junior point guard Trent Monkman was the player of the game for the Gryphons.
“We ran out of steam again,” Fraser said.
“Defence wins games and if you can’t make a stop, then you’ve got problems.”
In spite of the losses, Fraser was proud of the way his team played.
“I really enjoyed myself coaching this group of guys. They are a hard working group on and off the court. They played as hard as they could and that’s all you can ask for.”
It will be a bit of a rebuilding year next season for the senior Gryphons, with the majority of the team graduating in 2014.
Highlights for the team this season included a win at the Mountain Tournament and a third place finish at a tournament in Prince George.