Although the final two games at the Road to the Gold Basketball Tournament meant nothing in terms of placing – there were no final placings – the games could matter in the long run.
Basketball fans, players and coaches got a taste of things to come, with Yukon’s Arctic Winter Games teams squaring off against NWT, Saturday evening at FH Collins Secondary.
“It’s a combination of our Yellowknife club team and Arctic Winter Games players,” said NWT boys team head coach Shaun Doherty. “It’s basically an Arctic Games team with the addition of a couple club players.”
In a pair of matchups that could likely be duplicated next March at the Arctic Winter Games, the boys team defeated NWT 86-66 while the girls lost 65-51 to the NWT Lady Bolts.
“We just had our territorial identification last weekend – this group is mostly a club team from Yellowknife and one community player has joined them,” said NWT girls team head coach Melissa Bard. “Most of the girls make up the Arctic Games team, there are just a couple other players that couldn’t join us for this tournament.”
The Yukon boys broke away early, ending the first quarter up 21-14 after a drive to the rim for two by Ryan Sutherland followed by two successful free throws from Logan Gray. By the end of the second, Yukon went on to sink 12 free throws, less than half of their attempts, but just getting them is a good sign, said Yukon boys coach Tim Brady.
“I don’t know how many (free throws) we scored, but we definitely missed more than we made,” said Brady. “We missed a lot of free throws, but we got them, which means we were attacking.”
“We play an aggressive style of basketball, so we tend to get up on guys and we get into foul-trouble a little bit,” said Doherty. “For us, we’d rather see guys in foul-trouble than not having any fouls at all.”
Not down and out, NWT came out with strong starts in the final quarters, with three quick baskets in the third and consecutive three-pointer to start the fourth.
“We changed our defence (to counter),” said Brady. “We went to a man-to-man, to get a change in momentum. That seemed to work.
“Our guys just played hard the whole game. We turned it over a lot, won a lot of the hustle battles and we finished around the basket pretty well.
“I think our guys really came to play. There’s no shortage of competitiveness between the territories.”
The victory marked the third straight win over NWT for the Yukon boys, defeating their neighbours to the east at the Manitoba Invitational Tournament at the start of August and at the Canada Summer Games in PEI.
Leading Yukon in points was Logan Boehmer with 30, followed by Gray with 15. Sutherland drained two three-pointers on his way to 14 points, and Arthur Mauro put eight points worth in.
The Yukon boys’ only defeat in the tournament came against Alaska’s Delta High School Huskies, losing 76-66.
Yukon was within a point of the undefeated Huskies with six minutes left before hitting a rough patch.
“We hit a bad spurt where we turned the ball over three times in a row on offence,” said Brady. “We didn’t defend well and then they hit two three (pointers), so we were down seven, and they turned the tides.”
Yukon comeback fizzles
in fourth quarter
The Yukon girls team looked on their way to pulling off a sizable comeback against undefeated NWT, only to drop a three-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter as the team’s game turned sour.
“We got flat and started turning it over – they got tired” said Yukon girls head coach Mark Hureau. “This game I left the starters in almost the entire second half.
“(NWT) put out (Rogine Olayvar) who hadn’t played all game and brought some energy.”
In the final minutes, Olayvar sunk three field goals, including the only three-point basket of the game.
Down 22-8 early in the second, Yukon pulled within a point of NWT with a steal and conversion by Shannon Thompson and a successful free throw by Beth Ferguson.
Yukon then tied the game 37-37 in the third on a free throw by Devon Hanson and Ferguson gave the Yukon their first lead with a lay up late in the quarter. A last-minute steal by Thompson gave Yukon a 44-41 lead to end the third.
“We only had one practice with this team, so we really didn’t have any plan for offence,” said Hureau. “Eventually the girls started getting more comfortable, started driving, drawing fouls, getting free throws.
“One change was that we went to a man-to-man defence, which is aggressive, and I think the aggressiveness carried over to the offence.”
“I think they forced turnovers and bad decisions,” said Bard. “I think the winner was determined by who was the best rebounding team. And when they gained momentum, they rebounded well, and when we gained momentum back, it was because we were rebounding well.
“Our goal was to keep them to one shot.”
Hanson led the Yukon team with 19 points, while Thompson and Jennifer Curtis sunk 13 and 11 worth respectfully.
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com