The Vanier Crusaders have now ruled Yukon senior boys basketball for half a decade.
The Crusaders bagged their fifth straight title with a 73-53 win over the Porter Creek Rams in the final of the Yukon Basketball Championships on Thursday at F.H. Collins Secondary.
“The five in a row wasn’t a focus at all,” said Crusaders head coach Sean McCarron. “I know from enough years of coaching you have to go game by game. But if you push the process and the preparation, you hope it’ll work out in the end.
“Most of my team will be back next year, plus a great group of Grade 9s and 10s I’m going to pull up, so the future is looking bright.”
While it was the school’s fifth title in a row, it was the same for Crusaders co-captain RJ Siosan. The Grade 12 player has been on a champion team every year of his high school career – twice as a junior and now three as a senior.
Fittingly, Siosan was named championship MVP following what was his final high school game.
“Everybody did their job; we played well,” said Siosan. “At first we were slow a bit, but we kept the game going and then our flow was back.
“Our teamwork was big. At the start of the season some of us were in the Philippines, but when they came back our flow was great. Our teamwork was always there.”
The Crusaders, who went undefeated at the championship, also won the Super Hoops title in the Whitehorse high school league.
The team’s only loss of the season (not counting a tournament in Skagway) was the season opener to the Rams. It was that loss that put the Crusaders on the path to greatness, said McCarron.
“That game was a wake-up call for us to focus on what we do well and try to minimize our weaknesses,” said McCarron. “They shot better than we did, they rebounded better than we did, but we do have speed. So we played to our strength: we run the ball, we trap, we hustle.”
The first five minutes of the final were fairly close before Vanier went on a 10-point run for a 16-7 lead. The Crusaders took a 37-25 lead into half but only outscored the Rams by one point in the third.
“It was close for three quarters, we had it down to eight points. They are a very good team and just kept coming, kept attacking,” said Rams head coach Logan Wedge. “Any time we had one or two bad minutes, they’d take advantage of that. That’s how dangerous they are. They can take advantage every time you have a little slip.”
Siosan led the game in scoring with 23 points while All-Star teammate Dave Mindanao was close behind with 18.
Chris Nerysoo was the Rams’ top scorer with 12. Cassel Shilz and All-Star Christian Ouimet both had 11 for Porter Creek.
As for the MVP nod… “I thank God for this,” said Siosan. “I couldn’t have done this without my friends, my family, the fans for all their support. My coaches – Mr. McCarron, (Basketball Yukon’s) Tim Brady – everybody. My teammates.”
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Malcolm Muir (Warriors)
Christian Ouimet (Rams)
Evan Milenk (Rams)
Dave Mindanao (Crusaders)
Ian New (Crusaders)
MVP RJ Siosan (Crusaders)