Crusaders, Rams split final regular season games

After splitting games against the FH Collins Warriors on Thursday, the Vanier Crusaders had repeat outcomes to end the Super Hoops regular season at home on Friday.

After splitting games against the FH Collins Warriors on Thursday, the Vanier Crusaders had repeat outcomes to end the Super Hoops regular season at home on Friday.

Taking on the league-leading Porter Creek Rams, the Crusader boys ended the regular season triumphant with a 73-56 win while the Crusader girls remained winless on the season with a 64-45 loss.

The turning point of the boys’ game came in the third after the Rams cut a 15-point Crusaders lead to just five at 51-46.

The home team pulled out of the Rams’ reach when Logan Gray was fouled by Ram Riley Smith, getting an extra two free-throws due to subsequent technical foul stemming from audible curse by Ram Robin Smith.

Gray sunk all four free throws and the Crusaders immediately scored again to move ahead 57-46.

“To have responded to the (Rams’) comeback in the third quarter, and to push the lead back to 17 showed a lot of character,” said Crusaders head coach Sean McCarron. “They didn’t lose their composure at all.”

The Rams actually looked to be running away with the game early on, taking a 14-4 lead in the first, sinking four three-pointers in the quarter.

Porter Creek went on to hit nine three-point shots – almost half the team’s points worth – in the game, with five coming from Cameron Weeks, who led the team with 17 points.

“When he’s confident – when he shoots – he’s real good,” said Rams head coach Logan Wedge. “Sometimes he looks for his teammates a little too much, so I almost want him to be a little more selfish in a way,

because it would be good for him.”

“That was not something we were expecting,” said McCarron. “I don’t think I’ve had anyone get more than three in a game, so that was quite a performance from him.”

Gray was the big points producer for the Crusaders with 22 while point guard Jake Jacobs had a break-out game, according to his coach, giving his best performance of the season with 13 points and getting named his

team’s player of the game.

“He had 13 points, but more importantly he played really good defence,” said McCarron. “I didn’t even start him against Porter Creek and he ended up responding by giving his best game of the year.”

Third on the Crusaders team for scoring was Ryan Sutherland with 14 points.

Following Weeks in scoring for the Rams were Logan Boehmer with 13 and Robin Smith with 12.

“One of big problems here is consistency,” said Wedge. “When we play well, we’re an excellent team, but when we play poorly, it’s the same thing – we play really bad.

“As a coaching staff, we have to figure out how to get this consistency to happen, because when it does happen I think we’re the strongest team in town.”

The previous night the Crusaders defeated the Warriors 78-48. Again, Gray led the team with 26 points, followed by Sutherland and Gavin Clarke each with 11.

Rams hold lead from early on

Like a quarterback and receiver, Rams Amanda Keleher and Shannon Thompson used three successful fastbreaks in the first period against the Crusaders to reach a 17-6 by the buzzer, which sounded as Thompson put in one last layup.

“They play on the Arctic Winter Games team together, so they see each other a lot,” said Rams head coach Trevor Hale. “They seem to connect well and they seem to know where each other is all the time. They’re a

good duo.”

There was more than just another win on the line for the Rams on Friday. To secure a bye to the Super Hoops finals, the Rams had to win by 15 points.

“It wasn’t so much that we wanted to win, we wanted to make that spread,” said Hale. “That was always in the back of my mind.”

Despite coming into the second half down 31-13, the Crusaders came out strong in the third quarter, outscoring the Rams 12-11. The momentum swing had a lot to do with Crusader Brook Nielsen, who went on to lead

the team with 15 points.

“Brook is kind of like my friendly giant,” said Crusaders head coach Janna Tait. “She’s huge and a dominating force when she wants to be. When you get Brook fired up, you get that competitive edge coming out of

her.”

The Rams had a handful of players reach double digits, led by Shannon Thompson with 21, Tawni Drinnan with 14 and Keleher with 12.

Following Nielsen on the Crusaders team was Melanie Tait and Terri Publicover, each with 10.

The Super Hoops semifinals will take place Monday at Porter Creek Secondary, followed by the finals on Tuesday at the same location. The tipoff is at 5 p.m. both nights.

In the boys’ draw, the Crusaders will face the Warriors for an opportunity to meet the Rams in the finals. Similarly, for the girls, it will the Warriors and Crusaders battling for a spot against the Rams on Tuesday.

“For me, Super Hoops is important, but it’s all about preparing for the Yukon Championships,” said McCarron. “That, for me, is the priority.”

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com