Port Hardy's Robbie Heavenor takes a shot during this year's first basketball friendly against North Island Secondary School.

NISS draws first blood in hoops opener

The NISS Senior Boys basketball team's season gets off to a great start, sweeping aside the Port Hardy Secondary School Whalers.

PORT HARDY—The NISS Senior Boys basketball team’s season got off to a great start, sweeping aside the Port Hardy Secondary School Whalers convincingly in the opening friendly in Port Hardy.

Both teams are relatively newly formed, meeting last season for the first time after a long hiatus and developed a friendly rivalry over the last year, meeting for several friendlies.

NISS took the game to the home side right from the first jump ball, setting up in an aggressive half-court defense and frustrating Port Hardy’s ball handlers in transition.

The tactic paid dividends as the visitors forced a series of turnovers and easy conversions.

As their confidence grew the NISS backcourt pushed forward, compressing the Port Hardy offence and smothering attacks before they got started. The Whalers were able to find some gaps when they did move the ball to the 3-point line, but on several occasions lost out through over-ambitious passes.

The Norsemen went in to the half with a comfortable 31-8 lead over the home side, a large proportion of those points the direct result of turnovers. Both sides looked much more comfortable once set up in defence, but PHSS got caught out bringing the ball forward too many times, missing the chance to form up.

The third quarter was a NISS sweep, scoring six unanswered baskets as Port Hardy looked for a counter to the NISS pressure.

The Whalers had a minor resurgence in the final quarter, after deciding to fight fire with fire. The home side set out a full-court press, exposing NISS to the kind of pressure that the Norsemen had doled out all game.

The press found some success as Port Hardy took four unanswered baskets at the start of the quarter, but by this late stage NISS had the game in the bag and rolled out 48-16 winners.

It was an entertaining, if one-sided, opener to the season for the two teams, and both will have emerged with positives and negatives to examine.

Juan Commacho and Aiden Horgan shone on the NISS side, scoring 18 and 19 points respectively. Brandon Pelletier got five, and Drake Baron, Clifford Glendale and Hyrum Neilson got a basket each to round out NISS’s tally.

On the Port Hardy side, Robbie Heavenor scored six, Travis Prior-Bleaney and Anthony Walkus scored four each, and Jesse Gooding got two.

The teams met again this week at NISS for a second friendly after the Gazette went to press. More details will follow.