Brent Mutis, Sport Information & Compliance Officer
Leading for almost the entire second half, it was a momentary lapse in focus that cost the Capilano Blues men's basketball team in their home-opener, an 89-87 defeat at the hands of the Langara Falcons.
Having just executed an in-bounds play drawn up in a timeout by head coach Cassidy Kannemeyer that resulted in a game-tying basket by Dawit Nuguse, the Blues got caught up in their assignments on screens and Langara heaved a lob off their in-bounds play, finished by Tyler Anderson for a game-winning alley-oop layup.
"In the locker room, we talk a lot about ending games and being focused in the huddle and that last huddle with 2.5 seconds left I said to the guys, 'We have to switch all screens.' We come out of that timeout, we don't talk and (Langara) coach (Paul) Eberhardt draws up a lob play right at the bucket; we get beat on a play that really should never happen," said Kannemeyer.
Trailing 41-38 at the half, the Blues put together their highest-scoring quarter of the night in the third that including five points each from CJ Campbell and Anton Mellinghaus plus a pair of threes from Michael Kelly which resulted in a 64-60 Blues lead heading to the fourth.
The teams traded buckets in the fourth as Capilano maintained its edge for much of the quarter but Falcons forwards Anderson and Moeiz Athaya combined for 21 points in the final frame including a pair of jumpers from Anderson that tied the game at 83. The Falcons took their first lead of the fourth quarter on a Luka Lizdek three with 34 seconds left and from there the Blues were forced to foul to regain possession.
Nuguse's bucket with 2.5 seconds left set the stage for the Falcons dramatic in-bounds play and that in turn created a bitter pill for Kannemeyer and the Blues to swallow.
"Absolutely we're going to grow from it," said Kannemeyer. "But in the locker room I talked more so about how it was a good game. (We) executed really well before that to tie it... ran the play perfectly out of our timeout, guys hit big shots down the stretch.
"Langara, all credit to them, they hit huge shots as well, they hung around and hung around and sometimes games come down to who can make shots and I thought they did a better job of making shots in the fourth quarter."
There was plenty of good to go around from a Blues perspective with Campbell pouring in 26 points and a career night from Mellinghaus that included a pair of threes that allowed the Blues to cut into the Langara lead in the second quarter.
"I'm pretty glad that I had a good game; we came out playing really hard and we came out in the second half even better," said Mellinghaus. "We thought we could put them away but we played to not lose, we didn't play to win so I think that's kind of what went wrong there. That's just basketball and it happens."
Nathan Bromige continued his strong start to the season with 13 points, six rebounds and a block and Kelly's night was encouraging as he was able to play big minutes and contribute off the bench.
"I think roles are starting to figure themselves out a bit," said Kannemeyer. "But I think ultimately CJ Campbell was excellent tonight, Anton really stepped up and we are trying to find, 'Where is our mismatch at the end of the game? Where can we go to get baskets at the end of the game? Right now I think it's changing game to game.
"I'll look at the tape and think about different lineups to finish games. Sometimes I try to ride the hot hand and I always look back and try to grow from it."
The loss drops the Blues to 0-3 while Langara evened their record at 1-1.
Next up for the Blues is a road game Nov. 16 at Columbia Bible College. The next home games are Nov. 22 and 23 as Okanagan College pays a visit to the Centre for Sports and Wellness.