Bitter Ending To A Tough Season… Positives!

Photo by Janessa Hogan
Photo by Janessa Hogan

A very tough loss officially ended our season at X Saturday night. Leading by three with ten seconds remaining and having possession of the ball in a sideline out of bounds in the front court, we safely got the ball in bounds to Tyler Scott. X tried to double team, and when the whistle blew with our guy on the floor in possession of the ball and two opponents on top of him with 4.5 seconds remaining, we believed that we would be heading to the free throw line with a chance to put the game away. The play was ruled a jump ball, and possession was in the X-Men's favor. X hit a very deep three to send the game into OT, and won 94-93. I felt very bad for our seniors and all of our players. Our guys have continued to work through adversity all season, and this was just another difficult pill to swallow. I am very proud of our players that have hung tough throughout this most difficult and trying time. We finished the season 13-18 overall, and 6-14 in the AUS. We lost three league games by a total of six points, and if we had won those, we would be getting ready to go to Halifax this coming weekend. Our league is very tough, as witnessed by the number of close games throughout. We are not an excuse making group, nor do we ever talk of injuries, etc. throughout the season. We try to live by the "next play philosophy", as well as the "next man up" credo that is popular particularly in the pro sports genre. The facts are real though… as a Coaching staff, in meetings prior to the season, we looked at who we thought would probably play significant roles in our rotation. Of those ten players combined, we lost 34 man games due to injury/illness and other issues. As I have said many times throughout this year to our guys, adversity is a great teacher, and moving forward, will only make you a stronger and better person!

Coming back to Charlottetown on the team bus from Antigonish Saturday night, I did something that I rarely do. My wife and I went to the back of the bus to hang out with the players for a bit! As you can imagine, many of them were pretty down about the loss earlier, and the culmination of what we all felt was a disappointing season for us. In no time at all we were telling stories (my wife told my guys and some of our female players on the bus with us some less than stellar tales of our early years together and my playing days!) and the entire mood was picking up! People must remember that these guys and girls are student athletes and still impressionable young men and women. My guys have put forth great effort, some over five years, both on court and off. None of them try to play poorly ever, and most all are constantly trying to do what is best for the team, the Coaches, and UPEI! I love and respect them all!

As always, I believe that it is very important to celebrate the positives in everything! Dut Dut lead the nation in rebounding this season, pulling down 11.9 per game, while setting a single season record in AUS play for UPEI at 237 total boards! Tyler Scott won the AUS scoring title, checking in at 21.5 points per game, which puts him fourth in the nation! Tyler also went over 1700 career points in Saturday's game at X, finishing with 1706 for his career, which leaves him currently fourth ALL-TIME in AUS history! Two of our other graduating seniors, Lorenzo Parker and Jake Kendrick, also high school teammates at Horton H.S. in N.S., leave us as two of the greatest TEAM players that I have ever had the privilege to coach in my 30 year career! And lest we all forget… it is very important for all to know and understand that after the previous six seasons, including our most recent campaign, the UPEI Panthers record in AUS regular season play still ranks second overall in what many consider the most competitive league in the country, for wins over that span (70!)… only one win back of the leader!  Also remember… the Panthers have already began to reload, with seven new student athletes now currently committed to UPEI!

Thanks to all of our great and loyal Panther supporters, I hope to see you next year!