The bowl was only half full for the Foothills Falcons at a basketball tournament hosted by the number one Senior boys team in the province.
The result was a sour one for the Falcons at the Sugar Bowl basketball tourney hosted by the Raymond Comets Dec. 27-28 in Raymond.
The Falcons finished 0-2 in the tournament losing to the Cardston Cougars 82-77 in the opening game of the tourney before being bounced out of the bowl by the Lethbridge Collegiate Rams 89-74 on Dec. 28.
The Falcons started the tournament slower than the traffic at Chinook Centre on Boxing Day in their five-point loss to the Cougars who are the ninth ranked 4A team in the province.
“It was a game we really should have won,” said Falcons coach Amron Gwilliam. “We fought back hard in the second half and we even had a five or six-point lead in the game… If we would have played well in the first half, I think we would have won the game.”
The Falcons were down by 14 points at halftime and they nearly pulled the rabbit out of the hat, but unfortunately, they split with the hair.
The two teams were tied at 77-77 with 30 seconds left in regulation time and the Falcons had possession of the ball.
“We then made a turnover and Cardston made a basket,” Gwilliam said.
The Falcons were then forced to foul because they were running out of time. Cardston made its free throws en route to the five-point victory.
Falcon Ray Goff continued to impress in his first year of Senior basketball leading the Falcons with 20 points. Ryan Derochie and Anand Carrigan both finished in double digits in scoring for Foothills.
Gwilliam didn’t mince words in describing the Falcons’ opening 20 minutes in their 89-74 loss to the LCI Rams.
“We played horrendous,” Gwilliam said. “We were down by 20 at the half and we were able to whittle it down to six.”
Gwilliam said he is cautiously optimistic going into the new year.
“Our ability to score is there and the boys are working hard,” Gwilliam said. “There are times when we are a very good team, but when we are bad, we look really bad.”
One of his goals is to have his team cut down its number of turnovers, ranging from traveling infractions to errant passes.
He estimated the Falcons turned the ball over 40 times in their loss to Cardston and the Falcons average between 25 and 35 turnovers a game.
“Those often result in easy layups, so many games we are giving away 25 to 30 points.”
He said he would like to get the turnover number down to 15 a game.
Despite their losses in Raymond the Falcons have caught the attention of those in the know.
They received honourable mention in the 4A provincial rankings which were released over the Christmas break.
Gwilliam said the top three teams in the rankings, the Raymond Comets, Jasper Place Rebels out of Edmonton and the Western Canada Redmen out of Calgary, are a cut above the other teams in the province (Raymond won the Sugar Bowl).
“But from No. 4 to 15, they are all pretty even,” Gwilliam said. “We can compete with any of them.”
The Falcons will see how they stack up this weekend against some of those teams as they host the Falcons Invitational tournament on Friday and Saturday.
They open the tourney Friday at 2:30 p.m. against the Bowness Trojans at Foothills Composite High School in Okotoks.
The Falcons’ first game in the Foothills Athletic Council after the break is Jan. 14 when they host the cross-town rival Holy Trinity Academy Knights.