TRURO – The Cobequid Cougars couldn’t overstate how important Monday’s win over the North Nova Gryphons was.
The 79-36 triumph over their New Glasgow rivals allowed the Cougars to draw first blood in the best-of-three Northumberland Region boys basketball championship, which resumes Wednesday at 6:15 p.m. at North Nova.
“It was a huge win because if we had have come out of this with a loss it would have hurt our morale and made the series that much tougher for us,” veteran Cougars centre Clayton Cooke, who scored six points, said.
The victory affords the Cougars some breathing room in the series, the winner of which earns a trip to the provincial championship Feb 21 and 22 at Citadel High in Halifax. Although the Cougars have dominated the Gryphons in the friendly confines of CEC Gym this season, Cobequid hasn’t been so lights-out at North Nova. In their meting in the New Glasgow school earlier this season, Cobequid actually trailed North Nova by five points at half time before going on to win.
“It’s nice to get the first W and go to their gym 1-0,” Cooke, a 17-year-old Truro resident, said. “That’ll help us come in and bring some energy to the next game because we know they’ll come to play too.”
Cobequid took control early on in Monday’s matchup. Although the Cougars held a 13-9 lead at the end of the first quarter, the Cougars tightened their grip on the contest and extended the cushion to 47-16 at half time.
But in spite of holding such a large lead, Cooke said he and his teammates had no trouble staying motivated to play.
“We wanted it and we weren’t going to let our foot off the gas,” he said. “This is our biggest series of the year. Our whole season depends on this series.”
Curtis Smith led the Cougars with a game-high 21 points while Nick Scissons poured in 19. Ethan Green scored 14 points.
Connor MacGillivray paced the Gryphons with seven points.
“Our defence was the key,” Cooke said. “We were solid and didn’t let them to the hoop. We forced them into a lot of late-clock shots and our offence came from our defence.”
Although Cougars coach Marc Roberts was pleased with how his team looked in the series opener, he was also busy making sure his players didn’t get too high from winning the first battle.
“All this was was game 1,” he said. “We need to deal with it and move on because Game 2 is an entity all by itself so we need to get focused and not only look to close out the regional championship but to play well too because they’re not going anywhere.”
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