Is it too early to ask whether the Porter Creek Rams can match their recent volleyball achievements on the basketball court? Probably.
The Rams, who won five of six titles at the Yukon Volleyball Championships, have now started the basketball season with wins in four divisions. But a couple of those games could have gone either way.
Beginning with two Grade 8 games Thursday evening at Porter Creek Secondary, the boys Rams team defeated the Vanier Crusaders 46-42. In the girls game, the Rams dealt the Crusaders a 36-20 loss.
The following day in Grade 9/10 action, the Rams girls team narrowly avoided dropping a healthy lead in a 33-31 win over the Crusaders while in the boys game the Rams held on for a 63-51 win.
Crusaders’ comeback comes up short
After finding themselves down 17-2 early in the second quarter, the girls 9/10 Crusaders managed to end the half down 19-9. Then, in the dying seconds of the game, Crusader Robin Fortune took a pass from Anna Rivard to score from under the net to end the game down two.
“I don’t know, but I’m sure glad the clock ran out,” said Rams coach Trevor Hale. “If we played any longer we would have been in trouble.
“We talked about it after the game and I think they became so overconfident; they lost the desire to finish everything. And it got to the point where they had so much momentum they were hard to stop.”
Outscoring the Rams 12-5 in the fourth, firm control of the boards allowed for the Crusaders to outshoot the Rams 27-11.
“They rebounded hard, they destroyed us on the glass,” said Hale. “They were getting six, seven chances.”
“Once the girls learned how to play together better and once they warmed up and relaxed, I think they did a lot better,” said Crusaders coach Melina Hougen.
“Robin has always been a really good player, she’s really fast and she knows how to look around and see where everyone is to make good passes,” said Hougen of Fortune, who led the Crusaders with 13 points.
“And Anna (Rivard) is always right in the action.”
Team Yukon player Shannon Thompson led the Rams charge with 13 points while teammate Jenna Blanechefte picked up six.
“She’s a good player and she played all summer,” said Hale of Thompson. “She’s come a long way in a year.”
Rams pull off win to start season
Sinking four baskets on four shots, the Crusaders almost closed the gap in the third period, coming within three points at 37-34 and 39-36 in the boys 9/10 game Friday at Porter Creek.
“We got the other team rushed, they were doing things they weren’t used to, so that was good,” said Rams coach Logan Wedge. “But then they started to figure out where the holes were, so then they kind of took us apart a bit—until Robin saved us.”
Just as it looked like momentum had swung to the Crusaders, the Rams’ Robin Smith, who ended the game with 25 points, shot back-to-back three-pointers to refurbish a comfortable 47-39 lead at the end of the third.
“I called timeout when they went to a diamond press and made the guys aware of what they were doing to try to counteract that,” said Crusaders coach Jason McArthur. “Our point guard, David Ratcliff, did a really good job at bringing it down. And then wings supported him by either cutting in or setting picks for him.
“The fact that they were able to figure out the press right away was a bit of a turning point.”
Despite his four three-pointers, Smith was not the game’s top scorer. Crusader Henry Kedziora changed the scoreboard the most with 33 points.
“He’s just naturally athletic,” said McArthur. “At the start of the year he was working out with our senior team a little bit as well, so I think that experience, playing with more experienced players, challenged him.
“I’ve noticed a big difference with him between this year and last year.”
While the Crusaders failed to capitalize on opportunities, missing eight of their final 10 shots, Smith then finished the game scoring the Rams’ final 12 points.
“In the fourth quarter we went back to our straight man-on-man defence,” said Wedge. “And then I think our overall talent level just took over.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org