Will Ngenda stands firm on defence for the Chemainus Cougars against Frances Kelsey. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Will Ngenda stands firm on defence for the Chemainus Cougars against Frances Kelsey. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Cougars hang tough for first half against Kelsey

Improvement continues, with strong leadership from Simpson, Ngenda

A potential close game got away from the Chemainus Cougars in senior boys basketball action at Chemainus Secondary School last Thursday.

The Cougars only trailed 16-12 after the first quarter and the deficit was still a mere six at halftime, 24-18.

But the visiting Breakers turned on the afterburners in the second half and posted a 64-40 victory.

It was still a strong effort by the Chemainus lads as they keep working hard toward more consistent play.

Matt Simpson led the scoring for the Cougars with 13 points., making many superb dribbling moves and driving hard to the basket on several occasions.

He was tough for the Breakers’ defence to contain and they ended up fouling him a lot. Simpson successfully converted three foul shots in his point total.

Will Ngenda also played well, recording seven points. He scored on a couple of nice rebound opportunities.

Ngenda’s ability to communicate on the court and call out details of where opposition players were helped his teammates on defence and brought up the level of intensity in the match.

The Cougars played at the Ucluelet Edge of the World Tournament Dec. 7 and 8, picking up one victory – their first of the season – in four games.

“We’re getting better and better, developing as a team,” said coach Kyle Peruniak.

The long trip to the West Coast was also great for bringing the guys together and spending two days on the road as a group.

The Cougars faced Nanaimo Christian School in their first game, clawing to within 10 points at one stage before losing by 15.

“I definitely believe we can beat them,” assessed Peruniak.

Chemainus then took on a young host Ucluelet team and posted its first win by a convincing 15-point margin.

“I played everybody pretty much,” Peruniak noted.

He hoped some momentum would carry over the next day against Gold River, but it didn’t and the Cougars fell by 20 points.

“We’re still not sinking shots,” Peruniak indicated. “We’re getting them, but we’re not making them. That’ll come hopefully.”

That set Chemainus up for another game against Ucluelet and Peruniak went with two five-player rotations in the game to get all the 10 guys who made the trip into action regularly. The Cougars ended up losing the rematch.

“At that point, I wanted to get the experience for all the guys,” reasoned Peruniak.

“Our defence is really starting to look good. It’s coming down to us not making points. If we make 50 per cent of the shots we’re taking, we’ll win games.”

The team was without veteran Simpson for the tournament. Ngenda stepped up and was player of the game in the first meeting with Ucluelet, scoring 20 points and adding eight rebounds, while looking better all the time in the post.

Mark Harris is playing the small forward position well, but fouled out of one game that really hurt the Cougars.

“He was probably our most consistent player all weekend,” Peruniak praised.

Jack Miller also made some valuable contributions.