There wasn’t much doubt Porter Creek’s senior boys basketball team would repeat as Yukon champs this year — the Rams are more or less an unstoppable basketball juggernaut here in the territory.
When they’re on, they run circles around their competition.
Porter Creek came out blazing during Saturday’s final against Vanier, played at the FH Collins gym.
In the first quarter, it outscored the Crusaders by a 23-4 margin.
Vanier was on its heels, stunned by the Ram’s speed and drive to the basket, and couldn’t connect on passes or finish plays.
In a defensive play worthy of the highlight reel, Tim Beaver blocked a Vanier basket after a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing sequence.
It squelched any momentum the Crusaders may have sparked.
Vanier came out strong after halftime, but with an 18-point deficit the distance was just too great, and the Rams’ talent just too deep.
Porter Creek went on to win 81-65.
“Everything went really smoothly, just like we planned,” said Porter Creek guard Sina Kazemi, who had 16 points on the night.
Kazemi took the MVP honours for the weeklong championship tournament, and teammates Tim Beaver and Chad Curlew were named to the all-star team.
“It’s like a perfect ending I guess,” said Curlew.
All five PC starters — Kazemi, Beaver, Curlew, Zack Carey and Sam Johnson — are graduating this year.
It may be the end of an era for the Rams as most have played together since elementary school.
“It’s a really great team and I don’t know if I’ll get a chance to coach a team like this again,” said the Rams’ head coach Logan Wedge.
“It’s just beautiful to watch them play basketball together, because it’s so fast. They know where they’re going on the court, if Sina’s doing a back court cut, Chad knows it just from playing together for that long.”
The Rams have lost four games in the past two seasons — two to Juneau Douglas and to a California team.
“All quality opponents,” said Wedge.
PC hasn’t always dominated, and early losses pushed the team to work harder.
“In Grade 8, we won every game, but lost in the final — that stayed in our minds,” said Kazemi.
“That’s been with us the whole time, that’s our motivation.”
“They’re probably one of the best high school teams we’ve seen up here in the last 15 to 20 years,” said Basketball Yukon president Tim Brady, who coached several of the players as part of last years’ pan-territorial U-17 team for the national championships.
With experience at several national tournaments, Kazemi, Beaver and Curlew are likely to continue playing.
“They all have some interest at the next level — those guys are definitely moving on,” said Wedge.
In the senior girls final, FH Collins dominated Porter Creek.
The final score was 79-48, and the Warriors held a 30-point lead for most of the game.
“My girls played with a lot of heart and intensity for the whole game,” said FH head coach Ann Jirousek.
“They wanted every possession and every loose ball. That’s one of the biggest differences between us and the other teams — the amount of hustle.”
FH guard May Nguyen and centre Noria Deacon controlled the play most of the game. While both teams were wild with passes and shots, FH managed to finish their plays more consistently than the Rams.
The victory was sweet for the veteran Warriors, who have toiled at the bottom of the standings for the last few years.
“It took us a long time to develop, but it was worth it,” said FH captain May Nguyen, who was named tournament MVP.
“No one quit, and when you don’t quit, you’ll get success out of it. I believe that because I’m in Grade 12 now and we got our first gold.
“It’s amazing — I’ll never forget it.”
With just four senior players graduating and the junior girls claiming victory at their championship last week, the team looks good for next year.
“You have good years and bad years as a team,” added Nguyen. This was definitely a good year for the FH Collins girls.
Gold – Porter Creek Rams
Silver – Vanier Crusaders
Bronze – FH Collins Warriors
Gold – FH Collins Warriors
Silver – Porter Creek Rams
Bronze – Vanier Crusaders
All-star team – senior boys
Tony Nguyen, FH Collins
Torey Wiebe, Vanier
Chad Curlew, Porter Creek
Tim Beaver, Porter Creek
Alejandro Pulido, Vanier
MVP – Sina Kazemi,
All-star team – senior girls
Kathy Sutherland, FH Collins
Kendra Thomson, Porter Creek
Michelle Dawson, Porter Creek
Roslyn Tait, Vanier
Noria Deacon, FH Collins
MVP – May Nguyen, FH Collins