Christopher Weakly was steaming.
“Don’t make me take my jacket off this early,” the first-year Nathan Hale coach screamed.
Weakly kept the tan sport coat on and his Raiders responded with a strong second quarter against Canyon Springs (Nev.) on Thursday. That was the final bright spot of the night for Nathan Hale, though, as the Pioneers ran away with an 88-51 win at the Tournament of Champions at Franklin High School.
It’s been a learning process for Nathan Hale (2-5) in the first year with Weakly at the helm. The positives were apparent, but so too were the bumps in the road. Canyon Springs’ aggressive full-court press forced more than a handful of loose balls, and it visibly flustered the Raiders.
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Nathan Hale’s shooting — specifically, that of Gadisa Margarsa — kept the score close and helped the Raiders close the gap to four at one point in the second quarter. But the shots, when Nathan Hale could get them off, wouldn’t fall in the second half.
“They brought a lot of pressure to us,” said Margarsa, who led Nathan Hale with 23 points. “A lot of the guys aren’t used to seeing all that pressure — they’re long, athletic, scrappy, went for the ball. We weren’t ready, they jumped out on us.”
Canyon Springs (8-1) turned a 36-28 halftime advantage into a 29-point lead after three quarters. From there, the game completely unraveled for the Raiders, as the Pioneers traded offensive sets for breakaway dunks.
“It would be good to get a win like this against a team that good, but …what matters is league,” Weakley said.
Weakly said the team can use Thursday’s experience as it moves into Metro League play, where it will have to face the likes of Rainier Beach and Franklin.
If the Raiders can take the loss in stride as a learning experience, then the game, which doesn’t count against the all-important league record, will have served its purpose.
“That’s the biggest thing about it — they’re working hard,” Weakly said. “We’re going to play to the last whistle.”
Gerad Davis scored a game-high 29 points for Canyon Springs, which will face Cleveland on Friday at 6:15 p.m.
Nathan Hale plays Foss at 2:45 p.m.