THUNDER BAY – Early to bed and early to rise sounds good in theory.
It’s probably not a great plan for basketball teams.
The Lakehead Thunderwolves, taking on the Algoma Thunderbirds for the second time in 17 hours, were sluggish at the start of Sunday’s rematch, but found their composure in the second quarter and went on to a second straight lopsided victory at the CJ Sanders Fieldhouse, downing their opponent 66-40.
Timmins, Ont rookie Ally Burke, who hails from coach Jon Kreiner’s hometown, led all Lakehead scorers with 13 points and said the team laid back a little too much at the start, allowing the Thunderbirds a little more time to consider their options with the ball, while protecting it at the same time.
“I think part of that came from the fact that we weren’t pressuring because (last night) we got a lot of steals and a lot of layups so we got started a lot earlier. This game we didn’t start that until the second quarter,” Burke said. “We just had to keep playing defence, even though we weren’t getting as many baskets in the first quarter.”
Thunder Bay’s Hana Whalen, who came off the bench to score seven points and haul in five rebounds, said it took a little time to get going, the 11 a.m. start a little out of the ordinary for both teams.
“I think we definitely ended up working well as a team a little bit later on and once we started implementing our press, that definitely presented them with difficulties,” the second-year guard said.
“Throughout our difficulties on offence we stuck with our defence and helped each other out with our gap support and I think that really helped us get our feet under ourselves.”
The Wolves shooters, who were not great for a second straight night, came to life in the second quarter, turning an 11-8 lead into a 38-20 advantage by halftime.
A 13-0 run in the third put it away for good.
“If it wasn’t for Ally and Hana today, our shooting stats would have been abysmal. We’ve definitely talked about being a team through committee that has to shoot in the 50s or as close to 50 per cent mark. Last night we were at 41 per cent and we had one quarter today at 58 per cent,” Kreiner said. “We definitely had looks and I think that’s what we’ve got to look at. Our shot quality on most of our looks was decent.”
The Thunderbirds, who managed just 79 points combined in the two games, were led by former LU centre Megan Looney, who finished with a game-high 16 points, complete the double-double with 11 boards.
Thunder Bay native Allison Read hit a pair of free throws and two points in the contest, while former Westgate Tiger Keyra Gallo was held off the score sheet, but did grab three rebounds in 15 minutes of court time.
The Wolves open up the OUA regular season on Nov. 4 on the road against McMaster. Their home opener is the following Friday against when the Brock Badgers invade the C.J. Sanders Fieldhouse.