Spectators could feel when the momentum shifted during the Conestoga Condors’ victory over the Sault Cougars on Saturday, 108-79.
The winless Cougars (0-17) had clawed back a 19-point lead to just eight points with 7:58 left in the game, when six-foot-two Conestoga forward Efosa Agbonze caught a quick pass from teammate Shequell Gilgeous-Glasgow and threw down a mean two-handed dunk.
The slam inspired a late 27-7 run that fended off the Sault squad and a potentially embarrassing loss for the Condors (3-15).
“[The win] was good,” said Gilgeous-Glasgow, who contributed a season-high 36 points. “But I still feel like we didn’t play our game today, cause we’re way better than this. Defensively, we didn’t come to play.”
That changed on Sunday afternoon, however, as Conestoga defeated Sault in the second of their two regular season matchups, scoring 83 points and holding the Cougars to just 48. The defensive effort was led by solid performances from Tucker Sutton and Jody Brown, who had three blocks.
The pair of wins still places Conestoga well out of the playoff picture, but the team is staying positive as they head into their final two games and start thinking about next season.
“Record-wise, it doesn’t reflect what we’re doing here,” said Agbonze, who has played for the team since Conestoga’s basketball program started in the 2017-2018 season.
“We do have a whole bunch of guys who really want it. I think if we can get some more guys on next year and build a team culture, we will shock people.”
Conestoga’s current 12-man roster has room for new players, but if Agbonze and Gilgeous-Glasgow decide to return for another season, it’s likely they’ll be doing a lot of the shocking.
The two Condors are league standouts in competitive statistical categories. Gilgeous-Glasgow ranks fifth in the OCAA in points per game at 24.1. While Agbonze – impressive on the glass – averages 10.5 rebounds per game, which is good for fourth amongst all active players.
Head coach Matthew Buckley said the two players have had a great season and has his fingers crossed they will return for another year.
Buckley also reflected on how the team as a whole has grown over the past two years.
“They’ve bought into being a team,” he said. “They’ve bought into helping each other.”
And the result of that?
“Last year we were fighting to stay in games, this year we are in games,” Buckley said, referencing a tough overtime loss to Lambton on January 16 and a competitive game against St. Clair. “It’s a matter of getting over that hump now. When you’re in close, can you win? Can you be the first to the finish line?”
The men’s squad will tangle with the Niagara Knights on Wednesday, Feb. 13, before playing their final game of the season at home against the Redeemer Royals on Saturday, Feb. 16.