By Joel van der Veen
DAVIDSON — The cats came back Wednesday, as Davidson hosted Hanley in senior boys basketball action.
While the Davidson Raiders took an early lead and ultimately won 80-63, the Hanley Sabers kept them on their toes throughout.
Davidson had a slim lead 42-31 after the second quarter, and for much of the third quarter Hanley trailed by just 10 points.
Carter Block, who coaches the Hanley team, said the school is still rebuilding its basketball program after several years without one.
“It’s about turning a bunch of football players into basketball players,” he explained.
Though the Sabers played a strong defence and had good ball movement, he said improved shooting might have made the difference between a loss and a win.
After a few years working with the team’s core players, Block said he is seeing signs of progress, though he has also lost a couple of players since the season started.
“It’s up and down for sure,” he said. “We’re still pretty young, mostly Grade 11s.”
Justin Kloetz led the scoring for Hanley with 31 points, followed by Rylen Bellina with 12 points and Wyatt Olyniuk with eight.
Mark Rettger was Davidson’s leading scorer with 23 points. Hunter Wall scored 14 points, including two three-point shots, followed by Clay Murfitt with 13 points.
Davidson coach Kim Rettger acknowledged that the Raiders weren’t playing at full strength, with a couple of players recovering from injuries.
Derek Schmiedge is still healing from knee injury, which affected the team’s press defence, while Parker Smith is “still not 100 per cent” after suffering an ankle injury at the start of the season.
Rettger also noted he was playing the bench, balancing his younger players with the more seasoned ones to ensure all were getting court time.
Still, he complimented Hanley, saying they put up a good fight and displayed solid ball handling and movement.
“You can’t take them lightly, you can’t relax with them,” he remarked. “They’re getting better.”
Last week the Raiders were also getting ready for their annual home tournament on Jan. 19 and 20.
Rettger was looking forward to some strong competition that included several 1A teams they are likely to face in playoffs this year, such as Buffalo Narrows, Rocanville and Coronach.