The Charles Hays Secondary School senior boys basketball team’s stock is on the rise after winning two convincing games against top competition on Jan. 5 and 6.
The Rainmakers beat the GW Graham Grizzlies 79-58 and 71-64 in a home-and-home series against the GW Graham Grizzlies, a AAA squad ranked 7th in the province.
“We’re playing against the bigger schools and we’re having success against them,” said Rainmaker’s coach Ryan Bishop. “So we need to have confidence in ourselves as we move forward.”
Despite the games final score, the Rainmakers fell behind early 15-3 during their first game against the Grizzlies, who played physical defense and shot the ball well from three-point range. Bishop said he had some strong words for his team after they fell behind, and they responded to the challenge well, outscoring the Grizzlies 31-17 to take a 34-32 lead into the half.
“It’s a proud group and they don’t like losing,” he said. “So they came out and responded the way they needed to respond.”
The Rainmakers were able to extend their lead to 57-50 behind nine third-quarter points by Liam McChesney and seven third-quarter points by Kai Leighton. They pulled away in the fourth quarter to win the game by the final, 21-point margin. McChesney led the way with 34 points followed by Leighton, who scored 17 and Clifton with 9.
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The second game on Jan. 6 had the same physical feel to it as the first one, with the Grizzlies double teaming McChesney early in the post to disrupt the Rainmaker’s rhythm. Rainmakers guard Malcolm Brown was also forced out of the first half of the game after a collision left him with a bleeding lip requiring stitches.
The Rainmakers were able to adjust to tough defense getting some strong drives to the basket from Christian Clifton and tough inside play from their dynamic forwards.
“We slowed our game down, and tried to set up, waste the shot clock, get as many good possessions as we could and keep it safe with no turnovers,” said McChesney.
The Rainmakers had a 24-18 lead at the end of the first quarter and a 37-30 lead at the end of the first half. However, a slow start to the third quarter combined with some hot three point shooting from the Grizzlies resulted in the Rainmakers falling behind by five. Clifton said the team just tried to stay focused on not allowing the Grizzlies to get good open shots during this period, and it brought them back into the game.
“We just tried to keep out minds settled on the win,” he said.
The Rainmakers battled back to take a 54-49 lead going into the fourth quarter where more key stops combined with a strong effort on the offensives boards by McChesney and Leighton helped secure the win 71-64. McChesney finished the game with 26 points, Clifton added 20 and Malcolm Brown added 7.
This is the Rainmakers second two-game series of the season at home. On Dec. 15 and 16, the team Caledonia 71-31 and 82-28. Bishop said the two competitive games were good as they are helping to prepare the team for high pressure moments against the province’s best teams.
“You’ve got to be able to close out games and that’s what we showed we can do today,” he said. “To be put in that position and come through is definitely a positive.”
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