The Hyde Phoenix basketball thirds team was visited by Hebron’s JV squad this past Saturday afternoon for the first game of the year. Spirits were high going into the game, but no one knew exactly what to expect. Would we play well? Would there be a lot of first game nerves? For many, this would be the first official basketball game they ever played in and would be the first basketball game their coach, Mr. Collinson, ever coached. The thirds were, however, joined by varsity players Evans Kagame and Yihang Li, and both served as reassuring influences before and during the game. Kagame helped organize the pregame drills for coach Collinson and also gave some much needed defensive advice, which helped tremendously during the game.
The game itself started slowly, but from the first possession the Phoenix showed an understanding of offensive spacing and defensive cohesiveness, which was encouraging to see. Both teams traded a series of possessions before Evans Kagame opened the scoring, draining a shot from beyond the arc to make it 3-0 Hyde. Remarkably, Hyde would never relinquish this lead for the duration of the game, as the boys built a nine point first quarter lead and pushed it to 13 by the half. First half highlights included a fine display of teamwork, defensive intensity, and a tenacity to fight for every rebound and loose ball. Kagame led all scorers at the half with 10 points, but he was joined by five other players in the scorebook, including Yihang Li (7 points), Bernard He (5 points), Sean Shao (4 points), Henry Tao (4 points), and Allen Wu (2 Points), who scored on an incredible running drive to the layup late in the second quarter. The score at the half was Hyde Phoenix 28, Hebron 15.
Coach Collinson emphasized keeping the pressure on going into the third quarter and the team responded. Yihang Li scored 10 third quarter points to put the game effectively out of reach going into the fourth quarter. This allowed most of the third team players to experience their first official game action of the year, if not their lives. Key contributors off the bench included Chris Zhou, Colin Zhao, Alan Wu, Hayden Connor, Mike Hu, Jason Tang, and David Lu. Chris Zhou, especially, showed a great team-first mentality, adapting quickly to his first game and, although he did not score, he logged essential and effective effort minutes at the center position. This team-first spirit and the ability to adapt quickly and positively to the game epitomized the overall Hyde effort on the day and allowed us to overcome our initial pregame jitters. The final score was a well-deserved 51-35 Hyde victory over Hebron. Go Phoenix!