The St. Thomas Tommies split wins against bitter rivals the Holland College Hurricanes basketball teams in hoops action on Saturday.
Tension has been building between the two basketball programs over the past few years, bringing heated games for the teams and fans. Saturday was no exception.
The women’s game started out close, with the Tommies up by only one at the end of the first quarter. A run in the second quarter allowed them to stretch their lead to nine at halftime. From there Holland College began getting frustrated, with Hurricanes starting guard Steph Hiltz picking up two technical fouls for mouthing off at the referee. The Tommies were able to maintain their composure, finishing the game with a 76-52 victory over their rivals.
“That’s a good basketball team,” said Tommies coach Fred Connors about the Hurricanes. The win was key for St. Thomas, who are trying to lock up the first overall spot in the ACAA. “Our girls responded and I’m very proud of what they did.”
The Tommies’ biggest struggle came inside the paint, where Holland College’s height helped them dominate the rebounds. Despite out-rebounding STU by 11, the Hurricanes struggled to finish inside and STU’s outside shooting more than made up for the deficit on the boards.
“The second half we started getting into more of a flow. We had a nice run where we were hitting some shots. That was the difference,” said Connors.
Many of those shots came from first-year Tommie Lindy MacDonald. She hit six of her eight three-point shots, including a deep three-pointer near the end of the first half. MacDonald, who two years ago played for Holland College, finished with 23 points.
“It felt really good. My shot was completely off in the first part of the season, so it’s starting to come around a bit, which is nice,” said MacDonald.
In an earlier game against the Hurricanes this season, STU won by 10 and the game was closer all the way through. MacDonald said she could feel the difference in atmosphere compared to most of their league games.
“We knew the rivalry was there coming into it. You could feel it as soon as you came into the gym. Both [teams] could, I think,” said MacDonald.
The men’s game did not go as well for the Tommies. It looked like St. Thomas was going to be able to stick with the nationally-ranked Hurricanes, but Holland College’s offensive proved to be too much to handle. The Hurricanes ended up winning 103-53.
Men’s coach Dwight Dickinson knew that the Hurricanes were going to be tough to beat, but hoped his team would stick with Holland College longer than they did.
“We were okay for five or six minutes, and then we started to erode,” said Dickinson. “Things broke down faster than I would have hoped for.”
During the men’s game, one of the players from Holland College’s women’s team started chirping STU’s players and fans. Anytime Holland College hit a three or threw down a dunk, she and her teammates would run around like they won the championship. Some of the men’s players joined in, blowing kisses to the STU fans.
“When we have a period of downtime like we did today, teams like that like to get their egos built up a little bit by doing that to us,” said Dickinson.
Nathan Mazurkiewicz led the Tommies in point and rebounds, and confessed it’s no secret that the two teams are not best of friends.
“We don’t like them, they don’t like us,” he said simply.
Offense was one of the biggest problems for STU, who only hit 32 per cent of their shots, while Holland College was able to make over half of theirs. Jake Kendrick was one of the Hurricanes’ main contributors, who hit seven three-pointers in the game.
“It doesn’t really matter. It’s early in the season so as long as we make playoffs, from there we can move forward,” said Mazurkiewicz.
The rivalry will be rekindled on Feb. 22, where both the men and women will look to beat Holland College on the road.
“We know what we have to do now and we’ll get at it,” said Dickinson.