Going back to the 2000 Arctic Winter Games, Yukon has won gold four times in male basketball and has claimed silver and bronze in all the Games in between.
With the 2016 Games still seven weeks away, Yukon’s male basketball team has already collected gold.
The team that will represent Yukon in Greenland won gold at the Don Hather Basketball Tournament in Skagway, Alaska, over the weekend.
“It was good to get some game experience in – we haven’t had a lot this year,” said Head coach Tim Brady. “We got a little better every time we played and continued to learn and grow as a team. That was really the objective of going.”
Team Yukon topped the boys division with a 51-47 win over Alaska’s Kake High School Thunderbirds in the final on Saturday. They reached the final with a 61-41 win over Alaska’s Hoonah and a 66-22 thumping of Whitehorse’s F. H. Collins Warriors.
Josh Tobias led the team with 44 points at the tournament, while teammate Cassel Scholz was close behind at 42. Zach Giczi and Ian New finished the three games with 22 points and Alex Bouvier with 21.
Ian New pulled double-duty, playing the Arctic Games team and for Whitehorse’s Vanier Catholic Crusaders.
“He had a good tournament … He played well for both teams,” said Brady.
Also on board were Darcy LaRochelle, Chris Neyrsoo and Nylan Duncan, while Games teammates Dave Mendanino and R.J. Siosan missed the tournament.
Many on the squad played for Yukon’s bronze-winning team at the 2014 Arctic Winter Games in Fairbanks.
“It’s a team that has some experienced players. They’ve played together off and on for a couple years,” said Brady. “We have some size, we have some quick guards and we expect this group to continue to work, continue to get better, and hopefully by the Arctic Winter Games they’ll be at the top of their game.
“There’s a way to go, lots to work on, but I think we’ve been going for a couple months now and are making progress.”
The Arctic Games team wasn’t the only Yukon squad to hop the bus home with hardware. The F.H. Collins Warriors senior girls placed second for silver in their division.
The Warriors defeated Hoonah 32-27 in the semifinal before losing 35-31 to the Kake Thunderbirds in the final.
“We only brought eight out of our 21 players – we have quite the army this year – and from the eight that went we had four older players and four younger players,” said Warriors head coach Ann Jirousek. “They did quite well, being so inexperienced with such intense games.
“They learned that every mistake results in an opportunity for the other team to possibly score. Sometimes they did and sometimes they didn’t.”
Both Vanier Crusaders teams went winless. The boys fell 81-44 to the Kake Thunderbirds and 52-44 to Hoonah; the girls lost 56-10 to Kake and 48-16 to the Thunder Mountain Falcons. However, Vanier’s Kyle Rubio won the tournament’s three-point competition for the boys.
Yukon also had winners in the Hot Shot contest in which players shoot from five spots on the court in a timed event. Vanier’s New won for the boys and F.H. Collins Warriors’ Jayden Demchuk for the girls.
“Jayden is only in Grade 10. There are quite a few players on my team who are only in Grade 10, so over the next few years I expect them to get quite a bit stronger,” said Jirousek. “Hopefully out of this bunch there are a few who can pursue college basketball.”
Demchuk and teammate Dannica Nelson were named All Tournament girls. New, Tobias, Scholz and Warriors’ Hughie Fordyce-Fortune were named All Tournament boys.
Whitehorse’s Porter Creek Secondary Rams did not attend the Don Hather tournament this year.
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