|James Vause and the Hilltops defence came up big against the Calgary Colts.|
A special teams spark paved the way for an opening day victory for the Saskatoon Hilltops.
On Sunday in Calgary, the visiting Hilltops were locked in a toe-to-toe battle with the host Colts in the opening regular season game for both Canadian Junior Football League teams. The clubs were tied 10-10 at halftime, and the Hilltops pushed in front 13-10, when Brett Thorarinsson kicked a field goal on his team’s first possession of the second half.
The visitors took control of the contest on Calgary’s ensuing series. The Colts were forced to punt, and the Toppers loaded up for a full out rush. Sophomore linebacker Bobby Ehman blew through the Colts line to block the kick and fourth year defensive lineman Dillon Buckle recovered the ball in the Calgary end zone for a Hilltops touchdown that made the score 20-10.
The Hilltops momentum continued to snowball. Shortly after that score, the Hilltops got the ball back again and quarterback Jared Andreychuk hit tailback Logan Fischer with an outlet pass for another major to put Saskatoon in front 27-10. From there, the visitors cruised to a 31-10 victory.
While the final outcome was convincing, the Hilltops had to fight for the opening win. They led 3-0 after the first quarter and vaulted ahead 10-0, when Andreychuk hit fifth-year receiver Evan Kopchynski with a 65-yard TD pass.
The Colts stormed back to tie the score before halftime at 10-10.
The final outcome was sealed thanks to Ehman’s block and the fact the Hilltops read and react defensive scheme forced a number of turnovers. Saskatoon’s defensive line was able to get pressure on Colts quarterback John Kiesman with just a four-man rush. Thanks to that pressure, the Hilltops secondary could jump upon a number of hurried throws.
Thorarinsson kicked a total of three field goals in the win, and Hilltops defence grounded the Colts offence down to a halt. Saskatoon’s offence didn’t have its biggest game but made big plays at key times.
The Hilltops (1-0) return to action this coming Sunday, when they travel to Winnipeg to take on the Rifles (0-1). The Rifles dropped their opener 49-32 on the road against the Thunder in Regina.
A golden summer for Canada’s hoopsters
|Lisa Thomaidis is a stellar coach.|
Canada’s senior national women’s basketball team arguably had its most memorable summer ever.
On Sunday in Edmonton, Canada claimed gold at the FIBA Americas women’s basketball championship downing Cuba 82-66 at the Saville Community Sports Centre. Kia Nurse, who has stepped into the national spotlight as a 19-year-old prodigy, led the way for the red and white with 20 points, while Natalie Achonwa chipped in 12 points. Leidys Oquendo topped Cuba with 25 points.
Canada trailed at one point in the opening quarter 18-10, but rallied to go ahead 44-35 at halftime. Cuba started the second half on an 11-0 run to go ahead 46-44, but Canada rebounded to hold a 65-54 edge at the close of the third quarter.
The win over Cuba allowed Canada to lock up a berth at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Canada national women’s basketball team turned a lot of heads in July claiming gold at the Pan Am Games in Toronto downing the United States 81-73. Nurse scored 33 points in that victory.
While Nurse has become a star, the team play of Canada’s senior national women’s basketball team might have never been more polished. They moved the ball around extremely well and were tough on defence.
Canada is guided by head coach Lisa Thomaidis, who has been the head coach of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s basketball team since 1998. Under Thomaidis, the Huskies have always played with sound structure, and it is obvious she has worked the same magic with the national program.
Canada’s team is loaded with great players, but Thomaidis has to be given huge credit for bringing everything together.
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