Owls’ hoops squads off to solid starts

Jamie Mountain

The Rainy River Owl junior and senior girls’ basketball teams have started the NorWOSSA ‘A’ season on a positive note.
The senior squad split its opening games against the host Ignace Falcons and Pelican Falls Timberwolves back on Oct. 1-2.
Ignace dumped the Owls (1-1) in the season-opener but the squad rebounded the following day with a win over the Timberwolves.
Rainy River then competed at the annual Tiger Fall Classic tournament in Thunder Bay back on Oct. 4-5, where it compiled 1-2 record to finish in second place on the ‘B’-side of the bracket.
The Owls lost to the Hammarskjold Vikings (Thunder Bay), then rebounded with a win over the Lake Superior Stingers before ending play with a loss to the Dryden Eagles.
“As a team, we are starting to understand the fundamentals of defence,” said Owls’ coach Rebecca Tolen.
“It has been a big change for them moving from a zone defence to man-on-man. They are also learning to set up those small advantages that lead to good shots.”
Tolen noted that biggest challenge for her players through the early going of the season so far has been learning that defence and being confident in their ball movement.
“I am asking them to try a lot of new things this year and they are working hard,” she lauded.
As for the juniors, they won their opening game of the season against the Timberwolves by a 35-22 margin back on Oct. 2.
They only played one game that week as Ignace doesn’t have a junior girls’ basketball team.
Owls’ coach Nicole Armstrong said that top scorers of the game against Pelican Falls weren’t recorded, but felt that Madi Kreger and Tori Pollard were likely her squad’s leading point-getters.
“I like that they played really well as a team,” she enthused of her squad.
“Sometimes when you have young players, they aren’t always working as a cohesive unit.
“These ladies played like they’ve been together a while. They are very good seeing their team on the court and making really good passes often,” she lauded.
Armstrong felt that the Timberwolves’ large court presented the Owls with the biggest challenge, as they are used to playing on a smaller court at Rainy River High School.
“They sometimes got caught out of their positions as they are used to a smaller court size,” she reasoned.
“Improvements we will need to make is just general positioning for both offence and defence, as well as the execution of the offensive plays we’ve learned so far.”
Both squads were supposed to have a pair of home games last Tuesday and Wednesday against the Red Lake Rams and Timberwolves, but those were rescheduled due to the possibility of a CUPE strike.
Some reshuffling of the schedule gave the Owls last week off and they were slated to resume NorWOSSA play yesterday in Red Lake (the scores were unavailable at press time).
Both squads then were slated to face the St. Thomas Aquinas Saints in Kenora this afternoon before wrapping up the week with their first home games tomorrow afternoon against the Rams at RRHS.