The Lacombe Composite High School Rams Senior Boys basketball team overcame a stifling fourth quarter defence by the Camrose Trojans to give them a shot to tie or take the lead, but a last second shot by Forward Lubenson Pannebecker barely rimmed out — leading to to a 74-72 loss.
“That was an exciting game against a team that has been to the provincial finals two years in a row,” Coach Tylor Johannesson said. “They are a good program. It sucks we lost but I am happy with the effort.”
A barrage of third quarter triples, many of them coming from veteran Grade 12 Power Forward Richard Jans (24 points) had the Rams sitting pretty heading into the final frame, but Camrose extended their on-ball defence to half court which lead to several Ram turnovers.
“We haven’t seen that yet and they did a good job of adjusting to what we were doing,” Johannesson said. “It took us a little bit but we got used to the pressure we were seeing.”
The Rams managed to stay in the game with an aggressive 2-3 zone defence, which forced several Camrose turnovers.
“That is our only defence right now but as the season moves forward — we will progress that,” Johannesson said. “To have only one defence but still find success with it, I am pretty happy.”
Johannesson said he is ready to see the season amp up, after much of the last two months has been teaching and correcting old habits on a young squad.
“We are extremely young,” he said. “I have two Grade 12s and everyone else is either Grade 11 or Grade 10. Talk to me in a couple months and I think it will be a different story. I think we will be competing for our league.
“To me, the talent is there but the mental game isn’t yet. With a new coach in myself, we are all learning new systems and learning to play the game. A lot of these kids were the best players on their middle school teams, but this is a different animal.”
The goal for the Rams, according to Johannesson, is to compete against the three 4A schools in Red Deer for the City championship. To do so, Johannesson will rely on his older players, including Jans and Luke Miller, to light the way.
“He (Jans) has been nothing short of amazing,” Johannesson said. “I have been impressed with his leadership, attitude and poise. He is a streaky shooter right now and a lot of players will get down on themselves — he just keeps going and shooting and eventually they go in.
“He is great for the kids and will help them this year and going into next year.”
Miller unfortunately missed the second half of the game due to concussion symptoms, but Johannesson expects big things from him later in the year.
“He played JV last year and is an outstanding leader. He is a driver and him and Richard compliment each other really nicely,” he said.
Johannesson is hoping his guys get an opportunity to relax before the near year.
“We have a tournament in Leduc Jan. 11th and 12th. There is some good Edmonton teams going to that one which will be a good test for us. Then we have our home tournament Feb 22nd and 23rd. By the time playoffs roll around, these guys will have a tonne of experience,” he said.
He added, “For everyone reading. Keep coming to our games and supporting us. The gym was popping tonight. No matter what the score is, my guys are going to keep playing.”