CALEDONIA— When it comes to basketball, Pauline Johnson Thunderbirds’ player Ryan Hill definitely has game.
Making his senior high school basketball on Saturday, November 30th at the McKinnon Park Tip Off tournament, Hill finished with five fourth quarter points but it wasn’t quite enough as they dropped the championship game by a 51-46 score against ACMT, who are a school out of Hamilton.
“We have a good team this year,” Hill said. When asked what he liked about his team’s performance he was quick to respond, “When it looked like there was no hope left, we fought back and made it a game.”
Hill, who is an all- around athlete who also stared this past year on the Thunderbirds’ football team, received some strong praise from his senior basketball coach Matt Lickers.
“Ryan is a good athlete who works hard,” Lickers said. “He is a big body who goes out and competes every day.” In taking about his team Lickers went on to add, “Our team doesn’t quit. In yesterday’s (Friday) game, we were down by 17 at the half and we came back to win against Simcoe. Today (in finals) we were down at the half, and we didn’t quit.”
The Thunderbirds, who won last year’s pre-season McKinnon Park Tip Off Tournament, got off to a slow start as they trailed ACMT by a 9-0 first quarter deficit.
Pauline Johnson eventually were rewarded but they still had an uphill battle as they trailed 17-5 before finishing off the first with nine of the next 12 baskets as they cut the deficit to 20-14 heading to the second quarter.
“I wanted to play,” Hill said about school basketball. “If I don’t play sports, then I feel like I’m getting fat. It’s (basketball) something to do when I’m not playing football.”
Showing strong resiliency, Pauline Johnson went on a serious roll as they played solid defense in limiting ACMT to only four second quarter points as they trailed by eight at 33-25 at half.
Getting on a roll, ACMT re-gained momentum by increasing their lead to 42-28, before the Thunderbirds made a statement by finishing the third quarter strong with seven straight points to set up an interesting fourth quarter.
“It’s a quicker game,” coach Lickers said about the difference between junior and senior high school basketball. “It’s (senior) crisper, cleaner basketball and Ryan handled it well.”
In making his mark, Hill began the fourth with a three pointer and the Thunderbirds continued to score as they made it a one- point game at 47-46 with a little under four minutes remaining.
Despite generating countless opportunities, it wasn’t to be for the Sr. Thunderbirds as they settled for second in the pre-season McKinnon Park Tip Off Tournament competition.