Hawks and Eagles were flying high at the Yukon Schools’ Athletic Association’s Elementary Basketball Championships.
The Jack Hulland Hawks and the Elijah Smith Eagles got their talons on gold with big second halfs in the finals at Porter Creek Secondary on Saturday. Both the Hawks and Eagles defeated teams they had lost to in round-robin play earlier in the tournament.
The Elijah Smith Eagles defended their title from last year with a narrow 19-18 win over the Takhini Elementary Timberwolves in the girls final.
“We were a long shot to win,” said Eagles coach Rebecca Bradford-Andrew. “We had been doing semi-well, but we didn’t expect to win gold.
“We won as many games as we lost and we just came here to have fun, teach the girls how to enjoy basketball for next year.”
The final was a back-and-forth battle with the teams trading the lead like a hot potato late in the game.
The Timberwolves ended the first half up 13-6 before the Eagles began to spread their wings.
Elijah Smith went on a nine-point run to tie the game 15-15 on a basket from captain Emily Johnson.
Takhini took back the lead on a free-throw and basket from Tugugin Swan to make it 18-15.
Johnson put in two free-throws to pull within one before taking a rebound down court, draining a jump shot for the game-winner with 35 seconds left on the clock.
“I think in the first half they were just warming up,” said Bradford-Andrew, who coached the team with Kasia Leary. “In the second half they got a little hungry. They pulled it together towards the end, started working better as a team and were very supportive of each other.
“In the first half they were working on that.”
Hawks fly off with gold
After finishing with silver last year, the Jack Hulland Hawks improved with gold this year.
The Hawks defeated the Christ the King Wolverines 31-20 in the boys final.
“The boys worked hard all year, they practised hard, they played hard, they had a good attitude and they learned a lot,” said Hawks coach Valerie Ireland. “They improved a ton and I couldn’t be happier for them. They are a great group of boys.”
“We lost to Christ the King in round-robin play, so the boys knew what they were up against in the final and they came out with a fire in their belly,” she added.
The Wolverines took their one lead of the game on a basket from Logan McKay to make it 11-9 late in the first half. The Hawks took back the lead in the dying seconds of the half on an end-to-end rush from Brett Walchuk to make it 13-12.
Jack Hulland expanded the lead throughout the second half, mostly scoring with drives through the key.
The Hawks used their speed and fast breaks to widen the gap while the Wolverines couldn’t buy a basket in the second half.
“They are a fast team,” said Ireland. “I’ve been coaching Grade 7 for a lot of years and I’ve never seen a team run and gun and be so fast down the court. It’s just purely instinct – drive to the hoop, drive to the hoop. They are so good at seeing lanes and getting the ball down the court fast.”
A Hidden Valley/Holy Family mixed girls team won bronze with a 17-12 win over Whitehorse Elementary School.
Similarly, Hidden Valley defeated Whitehorse Elementary 15-13 in the boys’ bronze game.
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