Crusaders win Yukon championship in nail biter

Just 26.9 seconds remained on the clock in overtime as Vanier Crusaders guard RJ Siosan lined up his shot from the free-throw line. Siosan had just tied the game with a basket and drew a foul.

Just 26.9 seconds remained on the clock in overtime as Vanier Crusaders guard RJ Siosan lined up his shot from the free-throw line.

Siosan had just tied the game with a basket and drew a foul.

He didn’t let the pressure get to him, sinking the shot and giving his team a one-point lead over the Porter Creek Rams.

The Crusaders held the slim lead to win the game 55-54 and capture gold in the junior boys division of the YSAA Yukon Basketball Championships at Porter Creek Secondary on Friday.

“It was so intense,” said Siosan of his free throw. “The crowd went wild and I thought, ‘Oh my God this is intense.’”

Siosan, who scored 32 points in the final, was named the tournament MVP.

“RJ, more so than being a great basketball player, which he is, he’s one of the nicest kids I’ve ever met in my life,” said Crusaders head coach Dave Thomson. “As a matter of fact, my entire team is just full of nice kids, which I really appreciate. I love spending time with them.”

The Rams pushed the game to overtime following a big comeback effort. Porter Creek came back from down 23-6 at the end of the first quarter and tied the game 40-40 in the third.

“In the second quarter we had a bit of foul trouble and some of our starts had to sit down,” said Thomson. “When we get tired, we tend to stop running our offence, which means we’re not nearly as efficient. We stopped rebounding and they have a couple big kids who rebound well and that hurt us in the second quarter (and) brought them back into the game.”

The Crusaders were not getting cocky, that’s for sure. Vanier’s only loss of the season was to Porter Creek the week before as the Rams erased a 16-point first-quarter lead to win.

“When you win a lot, you can get really rattled when you get to a tight game … I could see they were a little rattled today,” said Rams head coach Logan Wedge. “They know we can play with them, they’re a hell of a team, they’re really good, but so are we.

“The difference is they have the best player on the floor, we have the most depth.”

So you’ve dropped a sizable lead against a team that has launched a successful comeback against you a week ago – what’s the plan for overtime?

“‘Calm yourselves down,’” said Thomson. ‘“You’re totally too excited. Space the floor.’

“When they space the floor and they calm themselves down, and they play rationally, then they are generally successful.”

Rams’ Pierre Lefebre, who had both of his team’s baskets in over time, finished with 19 points and Bryden Klassen with 18 points.

Crusaders’ Emman Aquinaldo had 11 points while teammate – and All-Star – Zach Giczi had six.

“(Aquinaldo) should have got an All-Star because he was deserving of an All-Star,” said Thomson. “Had we been taking in account just that last game, he might have been the MVP. He must have grabbed 25 rebounds.”

“I’m so happy right now. So proud of my team,” added Siosan. “Porter Creek is a good team too. But we played hard and won.”

The F.H. Collins Warriors captured the bronze with a 58-37 win over Carmacks’ Tantalus School.

Warriors All-Star Peter Jacob gave a 20-points performance in the bronze medal game.

All-Stars

Alex Theuriault (J.V. Clark)

Brett Skookum (Tantalus)

Peter Jacob (F.H. Collins)

Pierre Lefebre (Porter Creek)

Zach Giczi (Vanier)

MVP

RJ Siosan (Vanier)

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

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