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Voyageur's Best Sports of 2005

Jake Root

Root scores a thousand
Mercuries open the season by taming the Lions on the road
by J.C. Horton  |  December 6, 2005

Head Coach Kris Rinta wasn’t sure what to expect when his team stepped on to the court against the Ogilvie Lions on Friday, December 2, 2005 – but he was pleasantly surprised. First, it was a new experience for everyone with the change from four, eight minute quarters to two, eighteen minute halves. Next, the Mercuries only returned two starters from last year’s team in Jake Root and Josh Napstad. The fact is, a lot of younger, inexperienced players were going to have step up if this year’s team was to be successful.

The season opener began with the tip-off going to Ogilvie and both teams appeared to be reprogramming their bodies to some extent, from those motor skills used on the gridiron to those of the hard court. The ‘pleasant surprise’ was that as the game went on, McGregor evolved from the five individual players that began the night; to a ‘no-flash, no-nonsense’ team that ended up with seven players contributing points, steals, assists and rebounds.

Add to that the fact that the Mercuries were 18 for 27 from the gift line and one could say that the season definitely started off on a positive note.

Neither team scored for almost the first two minutes of the game. Finally, Wen Aubid broke the ice and was followed shortly thereafter by Jake Root’s first three of the evening. Andy Magaard, Bryant Maciej and Louis Duchene contributed most of the points for Ogilvie in the first half.

At the 5:08 mark of the first half Jake Root hit his eleventh point of the night; and the 1,000th point of his career. He would add two more in the first half. Andy Kruse, Eric Sather and Ethan Cummings would also contribute as the Mercuries went into the half-time break ahead by the score of 35-20.

Both teams began the second half with a slightly disheveled display of basketball. The difference was that McGregor made some moves in the other direction throughout the half. Andy Kruse opened the scoring with two free throws; after being fouled on a shot attempt off a rebound. Tony Novotny followed with a steal and nice pass that ended in a Root lay-up at the other end of the floor.

The Mercuries went about their business in a very ‘workman-like’ way as numerous players contributed steals, rebounds and assists. Throughout the game McGregor had shifted between a man-to-man and zone defense; and one might think with the lead they may have sat in a zone to finish out the night. However, at the 6:36 mark the Mercuries turned up the defense a notch going to man-to-man for the remainder of the evening and leaving no chance for the Lions to climb back into the game. McGregor was 18 for 27 from the free throw line and had seven players scoring. They were: Jake Root 22, Wen Aubid 18, Andy Kruse 15, Eric Sather 9, Ethan Cummings 5, Tony Novotny 3 and Josh Napstad 2. The final score was 74-42.

This article first appeared in the December 6, 2005 issue of the Voyageur Press.