December 11, 2018

The Conestoga Condors took on the Humber Hawks Wednesday night at home, but the Hawks defeated Conestoga 85-69, dropping the Condors to an 0-7 record.

Condors head coach Matthew Buckley at Conestoga College on Nov. 14, 2018. Photo by Keegan Lavigne, Spoke News

The Hawks were definitely a tough match-up, as their record improved to 6-0. Humber sits at the top of the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association‘s West Division, with 12 points and an undefeated record. Conestoga’s players and coaching staff have remained positive throughout this slow start.

The Condors never gave up and made a bit of comeback late in the fourth. They managed to bring the deficit to 11 points with a minute to go in the last quarter, but Humber pushed back to win the game. The important thing was that Conestoga never stopped battling back and hustling.

Head coach Matthew Buckley said there are some things the team can do to improve, coming off the loss.   

“It was a tough loss,” Buckley said. “Humber has a really good program. The big thing about tonight is we played until the end, which is good. Even though we had lost in that fourth quarter early, the guys fought hard until the end. That’s what builds character and that’s what we want to build on.”

Buckley went on to talk about the things his team has been doing in practice to improve.

“The big thing is we’re trying to keep getting our cardio in. We need to get our fitness better. This is the style we have to play, because we’re a little smaller; it’s a little bit more small ball. We have to start moving better, so that’s what our focus has to be in practice,” he said.  

The assistant manager of athletics and recreation at Conestoga College, Todd Erskine, spoke along the same lines as Buckley.

“This will be game No. 6. Unfortunately, we’re not in the win column yet, but we’ve played some of the top end teams in the OCAA. It has been a real challenge at the start of the schedule. It continues tonight with Humber,” said Erskine.

Assistant manager of Conestoga athletics and recreation, Todd Erskine. Photo by Keegan Lavigne, Spoke News

Erskine described some of the things the Condors have been working on during practice.

“They’re coming together and we’re seeing some progress in how they play. I think they’ve been working on their ball movement and just sort of the situational play and the positioning. They’re just trying to get those better,” said Erskine.

The Condors were in foul trouble all night, as they were in the penalty situation by just the second quarter. They trailed 41-23 at the half.

“We’re doing alright. We’re not moving as well as we’d like to, but shots are going to fall later on,” said Condors forward Tucker Sutton. “We’re not hitting right now. In the first five minutes, we were a little soft and cold, but we’re warming up a little bit better now.”

Regarding the season the team has had, Tucker said: “We’re off to kind of a cold start. Things are starting to click now. We are a pretty young team, so the chemistry is a little bit off, but we’re getting there.”

The team has been working hard in practice and Tucker believes it will pay off.  

“Talking is a big thing for us, because we’re so new to each other. We don’t really know where we’re going to go; where we’re going to read off of,” said Sutton. “It is important to get to know each other a little better and feel out where everyone is going. Then I think we’ll be better.”

Buckley, too, talked about some difficulties of being a new, young team.

Conestoga forward Efosa Agbonze shoots a free throw at Conestoga College on Nov. 14, 2018. Photo by Keegan Lavigne, Spoke News

“Guys need to be ready. We have a young team. It takes a while to get used to it, but you know when your number is called you need to be able to step in and do the little things that make us better as a team,” said Buckley.

“I think our ability to switch and our man-to-man defence — we can contain guys really well. Our 1-3-1 is generally our resting defence, but it’s still coming along,” he said. “These guys love man-man, and, again, with our size, we can switch everything and it makes it a little easier for everyone.”

Erskine agrees.

“There’s definitely more depth on the team. For Coach Matt to be able to have guys come off the bench and contribute — that’s been a positive sign early that he can go to the bench if he needs to and that’s going to help out in the long run,” he said.

Erskine believes the team can work on their consistency.

“I think they’ve shown, even against a lot of these top teams, that we’ve won quarters. We’ve actually won the quarter, points wise — now it’s just trying to build that consistency and obviously at the end of the game we’re coming out on top,” he said.

Buckley isn’t shy about stating his goal for the team this season.

“Our goal should be to finish, for sure, with more wins than last year,” he said. “I would like to compete for a playoff spot. It’s going to be tough after the start we’ve had, but I think the big thing is we’ve been in every game. So, going forward, if we can fix some things, it will turn into wins.”

Conestoga forward Tucker Sutton at Conestoga College on Nov. 14, 2018. Photo by Keegan Lavigne, Spoke News

Sutton, too, talked about what he thinks the goal of the team should be.

“A championship, man. We want to win this all, but it has to start at practice. Everyone has to be in it and we all have to want it,” he said.

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