Having been beaten in every bout this season against the Porter Creek Rams, it was essential that Vanier Crusaders kept the Rams from getting into a rhythm.
They did it in style.
Early in the third quarter, as the Rams started to close the gap from the foul line, Crusader Henry Kedziora came out from nowhere to make a huge block, sending the ball out of the court and the Crusader fans into a frenzy.
“It definitely got us pumped up again,” said Kedziora, who was named the tournament’s MVP. “We started to slack off when we were up by 20 and we kind of got sloppy. And then we got pumped up again and it was a turning point.”
Continuing to feel pressure from the Rams until the end, the Crusaders held on for an 88-79 win Saturday in the finals of the Yukon Basketball Championships at FH Collins Secondary.
“It feels great,” said Kedziora. “We were definitely the underdogs coming into this.”
The Rams raised their game to its highest level in the fourth, hitting 10 of 24 shots from the floor compared to the Crusaders’ minuscule 3-for-8. As a result of late-game drives, the Crusaders also gave up 12 free throws to the Rams in just the final minute of play.
“At halftime we calmed down and talked about playing better defence, boxing them out, getting a few more rebounds,” said Rams coach Paul MacDonald. “I basically told them there’s five stops and we’re back in this game.”
Kedziora led the charge with 20 points (including four three-pointers), followed by teammates Albert Spycher with 15, Jake Jacobs with 14 and Rowan Huggard with 13.
“(I have) an intense sense of pride in how my guys played – the character they showed in coming back from a pretty disheartening loss,” said Crusaders coach Jason McArthur.
Ram Robin Smith topped the score sheets with 27 points.
“Robin hurt his ankle last night in the first minute against Vanier,” said MacDonald. “I taped it up this afternoon and it was swollen like a softball. He played through the pain, played through the swelling and you never heard him complain. So he’s a real competitor.”
The Vanier Crusaders B team finished third.
Undefeated Rams win girls’ 9/10 title
Late in the second quarter the refs’ job expanded into dentistry, having to pick shards of teeth from the court.
The game was delayed after Crusader Sabrina Clark took a fall and hit her face on the court, reportedly chipping two teeth and splitting her chin. According to Crusaders coach Melina Hougen, the loss of Clark and the delay while the refs mopped up the blood, disrupted her players’ game.
“That kind of affected how we played,” said Hougen. “She’s probably going to need stitches in her chin.”
Clark’s tumble was not her team’s only fall on Saturday evening. Unable to snap back from an early deficit, the Crusaders went down to the Rams 47-30 in the girls 9/10 final.
The Rams were undefeated in the tournament.
“It’s one of the strongest teams I’ve ever had,” said Rams coach Trevor Hale. “It’s been fun coaching them. They’re a great bunch of girls.”
Up 37-30 midway through the fourth, the Rams finished strong, going on a 10-point run, picking off passes and producing fast breaks.
“We had this 2-3 zone trap we put in,” said Hale. “I kind of knew that as soon as we did that it would be the end of it. So we put that trap in with seven minutes to play.”
Rams playmaker Katie Lowey only produced six points in the final, but still earned the tournament’s MVP title. Hale couldn’t say enough about Lowey.
“She is one of the most aggressive players I’ve ever seen,” said Hale. “She attacks the ball constantly, whether it’s on offence or defence.
“She just seems to know where the ball is going all the time and she’s always there before the ball is.
“She turned the game around tonight.”
“I’m pretty excited – it was a good game,” said Lowery. “I’m happy for my teammates, for how we played.”
The Rams top scorer was Tazmine Carey with 10. Carey was helped by Courtney Greenway with nine and Shannon Thompson with eight.
For the Crusaders, Robin Fortune found the hoop most with 13 points, followed by Emily Ratcliff with eight.
“She’s always right in there – basically she’s on the court the entire game,” said Hougen of Ratcliff. “I only take her off because she’s exhausted and needs a break.”
The hometeam FH Collins Warriors took the bronze.
Grade 9/10 boys
MVP Henry Kadziora (VCSS)
Dave Ratcliff (VCSS)
Charlie Kedziora (VCSS)
Robin Smith (PCSS)
Robbie Borud (PCSS)
Joaquin McWatters (FHC)
Grade 9/10 girls
MVP Katie Lowey (PCSS)
Shannon Thompson (PCSS)
Jasmine Carry (PCSS)
Anna Rivard (VCSS)
Emily Ratcliff (VCSS)
Sophie Flather (FHC)
Grade 8 boys
MVP Colin Kabanak (PCSS)
Scott Peterson (PCSS)
Tristan Olnick (VCSS)
John Colten (VCSS)
Kieran Small (FHC)
Grade 8 girls
MVP Markie Bailie (FHC)
Julie-Anna Campbell (FHC)
Jessica Christianson (PCSS)
Chrissy Anderson (PCSS)
Heather Clark (VCSS)
Megan Young (VCSS)
Contact Tom Patrick at