By John DeCoste
The Horton D-1 boys’ basketball team was a competitive 1-2 at a Jan. 3-5 tournament hosted by Auburn Drive High School.
Horton’s opening game was against Citadel, the first-place team in the Metro league and a traditionally strong program. The Griffins were within nine points early in the fourth quarter when Grade 12 starter Alex Thomas fouled out.
Without Thomas’s veteran presence in the Horton lineup, Citadel was able to extend its lead and ended up winning by a 90-65 margin. Griffins’ coaches Jason Clark and Kevin Veinot stressed the Horton reserves “played hard until the end.”
Next up for the Griffins was Kennebecasis Valley from New Brunswick. In “a back-and-forth affair with numerous lead changes right up until the last few minutes,” Kennebecasis ended up winning 67-61.
Senior forward Bradley Fuller led Horton with 20 points.
Horton’s final game in a tough tournament was against Dartmouth, last year’s provincial D-1 champions following a victory over Horton in the provincial final.
In an 83-69 win, the Griffins got solid performances from all five starters – Thomas, Fuller, Brett Dickie, Glen Frasier and Gage Sabean.
On Wednesday, Jan. 9, Horton travelled to Bridgewater for a match-up with regional rival Park View. The game was close early on, but then the Griffins took charge, building a 51-35 halftime lead en route to a 102-69 win.
All 10 Horton players dressed for the game contributed to a balanced scoring attack.
The Griffins did a good job rebounding against a taller Park View team and also turned in a solid effort on defense, which was a key to the victory.
Horton improved to 2-0 in league play, and is also 2-0 in Mainland Athletic Conference (MAC) action with wins over North Nova and CEC before Christmas.
Park View hosts the next MAC weekend Jan. 18-19, with Horton, the MAC champion the past several years, scheduled to host the MAC championship Feb. 8-9.
Overall, as of Jan. 6 the Griffins had a season record of 17 wins and nine losses.
In league play, Horton has two games remaining, both at home – against Park View Jan. 25 at 5:30 p.m. and against Yarmouth Feb. 6 at 7:30 p.m. – prior to regionals, which the Griffins are once again hoping to host.
The Horton D-1 girls, meanwhile, continue to show improvement in a competitive schedule including games against D-1 teams from all three Maritime Provinces.
Horton went 2-1 at the CEC Snowball tournament in Truro on the Jan. 5 weekend. The Griffins defeated Fredericton (to whom they had lost by more than 20 earlier in the season) and Riverview (N.S.) before losing the final to Riverview (N.B.).
The Horton girls are also 2-0 in league play, having handily defeated Avon View 81-55 and Park View 76-43 earlier in the season.
According to head coach Jen Veinot, the Griffins “are settling in well as a team” following several early season injuries.
“We are consistently being led on offense by Candace Smith and Lauren Jodrey, and are getting consistent contributions, both offensively and defensively, from Graysen Parker, Molly Johnson, Jennika Veinot and Scarlett Smith.”