Sometimes it is hard to know what to expect from players at the junior level, but so far so good for the Rainy River Owl girls' basketball team this season.
The Owls played well and cruised to a 38-22 win over the Red Lake Rams in their NorWOSSA 'A' home-opener on Thursday afternoon at RRHS.
Madi Kreger scored a team-high 12 points while Tori Pollard chipped in with 11 to pace the Owls (3-1) to their third win of the season.
“They played pretty much the same as they've been playing but I think more of our baskets went in this game as compared to last Tuesday,” noted Owls' coach Nicole Armstrong, whose team lost by a 37-28 margin to the Rams in Red Lake last Tuesday.
One of the biggest and most pleasant surprises for the Owls in Thursday's home win over the Rams was the emergence of their three-point shooting, as they got one each from both Pollard and Kennah Leblanc.
Pollard's “trey” came in the second quarter, which helped spur Rainy River to a 24-8 lead at halftime.
“Those are beautiful because they haven't really happened, those may have been our first ones yet this year from what I recall,” Armstrong chuckled.
"I could be wrong on that, but I'm pretty sure they are. We had two of them for sure, I think today, so yeah that was a nice surprise.
“Nobody was more surprised than Kennah,” she added.
"The look on her face was 'Oh my gosh, I can't believe that went in'. Madi Kreger, on the other hand, she's been working on those because she's out front and she's our point guard.
“So she's been working on her three-pointers a little bit, but she's a little girl and it's hard to get the ball that far, so she's just been working. She's usually a volleyball player as well,” Armstrong added.
The Owls had a busy week last week and had gone into Thursday's game fresh off a 36-26 victory over the St. Thomas Aquinas Saints in Kenora the previous day.
As mentioned, last Tuesday the Owls had lost a tough 37-28 decision to the host Rams for their only loss so far of the season.
The Owls held a slim 14-12 lead at halftime, but couldn't hold on to or extend it in the second half.
“I felt like we were in control pretty much the whole time,” Armstrong said of the win over the Saints.
“Our girls shot well. Like, they don't miss very often when they do shoot,” she lauded.
“So, I mean we have bad games there like that five minutes in Red Lake that wasn't going well but they are really quite skilled at getting the breakaway, doing layups, making the shots, so it's lovely actually because I had the winning pressure yesterday [Wednesday], because I have coached in the past, and the losing pressure is completely different,” she noted.
“So it was nice that we always had probably about 10 points on the Saints yesterday, so it was never really super stressful and it was nice for me to be able to play both lines.”
As for the seniors, they had their home game against Red Lake on Thursday cancelled due to the Rams missing some key players.
But the Owls (2-2) had rebounded from a tough 40-27 loss to the Rams last Tuesday by downing the host Saints by a slim 35-33 margin on Wednesday.
Top scorers from both games weren't known.
Both Owl basketball squads were slated to resume action yesterday against the visiting Saints, with the outcomes not known as of press time.
The Owls then are slated to host the Pelican Falls Timberwolves this afternoon before hitting the road once again to take on the Atikokan Voyageurs tomorrow.
Rainy River then will welcome the Ignace Falcons to RRHS next Monday (Oct. 28) before concluding the regular season with another home game against the Voyageurs on Halloween.
“We won't have any practices probably before Tuesday on the court because Monday is a P.D. day, so I might be chatting with them on paper about plays and what they look like,” Armstrong said about the juniors' preparation for another busy slate of games this week.
"And practising, not necessarily in the gym, but maybe over lunch time, the other school is using the gym, so we might be doing it in a classroom, talking about plays and how that looks because I did want to give them a couple offensive plays.
“We have offensive plays on the throw-ins, but coming down the court they just do basic stuff,” she noted.
“I wanted to get a little more elaborate, so hopefully next week somewhere I can cram something in.”