BY KUMAR SINGH
The Cardinals began their season Nov. 13 with an overtime thriller against the St Joe’s Eagles. With a strong performance from the team as a whole, Head coach Antonie Morris earned his first career victory.
The Cardinals defeated the Eagles in front of a packed house thanks to huge efforts from the new players. Freshman forward Ryan Smart posted (24 points,11 rebounds, 4 steals, 2 blocks) and junior guard Sasha Clarida (23 points, 4 steals). Along with the new additions Senior Forward Rashaan Bailey added 17 points and nine rebounds to help secure the win.
Smart had a balanced approach to both sides of the ball. Playing stifling defense and allowing the game to come to him he filled up the stat sheet from tip off to the dunk that sealed the game in overtime.
“I am happy we won but we have a lot of work to do. This is just a baby step for where we’re trying to go.” said Morris.
Clarida, was the hero in the overtime period. He opened the extra quarter on fire, scoring five points and stealing the ball in the first three minutes. Clarida put the game out of reach with a four-point play, icing the free throw to make the score 82-72.
After an eventful first half, York led by a dosen going into halftime. The Cardinals lack of teamwork was their downfall as they allowed the Eagles to get back in the game.
York would retake the lead thanks to a dominant showing from Smart; who scored two key baskets. Another lay-up by Clarida gave the Cardinals a 69-65 advantage with just 1:30 left to play.
However, a York technical foul allowed St. Joseph’s back in the game. After two made St. Joseph’s free throws, a York turnover gave the ball back to the Eagles. Laurent then drained the tying jumper to make it 69-69 with 1:10 to go. Neither team would score in the final minute of play. York had a great opportunity to win it at the buzzer when Smart made a nice move in the paint and put up a shot, but it was off the mark, setting up the overtime period.
St. Joseph’s players didn’t go away easily Laurent, scored 27 points to go along with nine boards and five assists. His impact was evident however his nine turnovers were too much to overcome. Fernando Vazquez added 24 points and 8 rebounds in the back and forth exchange.
The story of the game had to be the performance of number 21 Ryan Smart. He took command of the new offense and became the focal point of both sides of the ball. Smart, a new comer to the Cardinal’s roster was extremely confident his ability to make an impact on the game well before tip-off.
“I’m trying to average a double-double honestly. I don’t see why it isn’t possible. said Smart.
After the first win the Cardinals stumbled into their next couple of games, losing the next three in a row at by an average of 9.6 point per game. With the new roster along with the new system in place, there seems to be somewhat of an adjustment period for the players.
Having players like Rashaan Bailey and Ryan Smart playing consistently has made the transition much easier for the team. Bailey has been averaging 15.0 points per game to go along with 7.8 rebounds for the season, while Smart has been averaging 14.4 points per game and 2.6 steals for the season.
When speaking to Ryan St John he made it clear that they will get better as long as they find their niche and stick to it.
“We will be fine as long as we can play defense and play together on offense. We got a lot of talent. Everyone needs to remember that this is a new roster and it will take time to find our groove.”
St John’s patience was evident from his body language on and off the court. St John is averaging 6.2 points per game this season, which is a step back from his 11.0 points from last season average. However as every shooter knows, it will take time to find his game.
“I’ll be fine as long as I stay patience and stick to my routine. I think if I keep running off them screens and take my time I will keep getting better. Like I said before it will take sometime, everyone gotta be patient.”
York bounced back on Saturday with a win over the Southern Virginia Knights. With a strong defense and a balanced offensive attack to salvage the consolation game of the A.J. Buchanan Classic on Saturday afternoon. The Cardinals pulled out the win with a 83-75 victory over Southern Virginia University.
Forcing a season-high 27 turnover the Cardinals took control of the game early and made sure they made a statement ballooning the lead to 16 at one point in the game. York had four players in double figures, which included Bailey’s 26 points and six rebounds.
Smart chipped in 17 points and 8 boards to go along with his 2 steals. Sasha Clarida also showed up with 13 points and 5 steals.
Defense seems to be the Cardinals key to winning, in both wins for the season their opponents are averaging 24 turnovers per game. With the season starting off shaky, the Cardinals are paying their dues now. They are 2-3 for the season and 1-1 at home.