The first Jamie Shaw Memorial Tournament was at F.H. Collins Secondary School from Dec. 7 to 9, as basketball teams from Skagway, Alaska, joined teams from the Whitehorse high schools for the event.
Teams from Haines, Alaska, were also in Whitehorse for the tournament, but did not take part in the bracket, instead playing a series of exhibition games.
Organized by staff and students at F.H. Collins, along with members of the community, the tournament honoured the memory of Jamie Shaw, vice-principal and teacher at the school who died in April, and raised funds for the Jamie Shaw Memorial Fund to be used to provide access to training and development for athletes and coaches in the Yukon.
On the court, it was a storybook ending with the F.H. Collins Warriors emerging victorious in both the boys and girls finals.
“It was the perfect situation because the community got involved,” said Alain Desrochers, a teacher at F.H. Collins and part of the organizing group. “It’s the perfect ending having the boys and girls F.H. Collins teams winning the final for the first annual (tournament) because Jamie Shaw coached most of the kids that were involved in the final.”
In the girls’ final, the Warriors took on the Skagway Panthers.
While the Yukoners had a full bench, the Alaskans had just seven players on their roster and utilized a six-man rotation for most of the game.
The Warriors applied a full-court press right from the opening tip, and the Panthers struggled to find a way through the defensive pressure.
The score at halftime was 11-6 in favour of the home team.
Defensive pressure and intensity continued to be the story in the second half, as the Warriors emerged victorious 23-16.
Leading the way for the Warriors was Sheridan Curteanu with seven points and Maren Bilsky with six.
The top scorer for Skagway was Tatum Sager with eight points, including six in the second half.
Nora Vincent-Braun was named MVP during the trophy presentation following the game.
Next was the boys final between the Porter Creek Rams and the F.H. Collins Warriors.
Porter Creek jumped out to a fast start with a 9-0 run in the first three minutes of the game. The Warriors regrouped and went on a run of their own, tying the game 9-9 with 13 minutes to play in the first half.
The Rams took the lead again with 8:20 to play in the half 16-15 before the Warriors went on a 12-0 run to lead 27-16 at halftime.
It was more of the same from the Warriors in the second half, keeping a healthy lead until approximately 10 minutes remained in the game and the Rams started a comeback.
Up 39-24 with 11:40 to play, the Warriors watched the gap narrow as the Rams drew to within one point with just under three minutes to go, 43-42.
A series of free throws for the Warriors built the lead back out to four points, but the Rams rallied again to make the score 50-49 for the Warriors with just 46 seconds left in the second half.
Clutch free throws from the Warriors and a handful of defensive stops secured the win, 56-50.
Top scorer for the Warriors was tournament MVP Sage Fabre-Dimsdale with 13 points. Warriors captain Ralph Hermosa chipped in 11, and Panaven Veerasamy and Sahil Kumar each had eight.
Warriors player Mackenzie Cameron said Shaw never left the team’s thoughts.
“I think it was the only thought that was going through any of our heads,” said Cameron. “Just thinking that this tournament was in memory of Mr. Shaw was really the drive that led us into winning all of our games into the finals. We lost the first two, but once we knew we were facing elimination if we lost the next ones, we just thought this is it. We need to win this for Mr. Shaw.”
Final fundraising numbers from the tournament weren’t available as of the morning of Dec. 12, but it is clear Shaw continues to have a tremendous impact.
“He was the heart and soul of the school,” said Cameron. “You can still see all the effects that he has had on the student body here and how great of an impact he’s made on all of our lives.”
Contact John Hopkins-Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org