Porter Creek Rams player Kiiwaadin Swan fights through Vanier Crusaders players Rylan Stoker, left, and Sam Wanless, right, for a layup to win the game between the two 76-74 on Jan. 23 at Porter Creek Secondary School in Whitehorse. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)

Porter Creek Rams overcome 20 point deficit to beat Vanier Crusaders in boys Super Hoops action

“When you’re out there playing, … you’re inspired to play hard for those guys”

After an extended break over the holidays, the 2020 Super Hoops competition resumed on Jan. 23 and 24 with the Porter Creek Secondary School Rams hosting the Vanier Catholic Secondary School Crusaders and the F.H. Collins Secondary School Warriors in boys basketball action.

The Porter Creek Rams girls team, however, did not play and has officially withdrawn from the remainder of Super Hoops and the upcoming Yukon Championship in March.

Paul MacDonald, head of the physical education department and coach of the boys team, explained that player numbers were down this year and that after a lengthy period of consideration, the decision was made to fold the team and allow the players to focus on other extracurriculars and commitments.

MacDonald said the focus shifts now to the younger age groups for the remainder of the season.

With just one game on the schedule for Jan. 23, tip-off was moved to 6 p.m. as the Rams and Crusaders took to the floor looking to remain undefeated in Super Hoops play — both teams having defeated the F.H. Collins Warriors in early December.

Things started slowly for both teams, with both sides struggling to find a rhythm early in the game.

It was the Crusaders who managed to get rolling first, building a 14-6 lead over the first six minutes and jumping out 31-15 after the first quarter.

The Crusaders built a lead that stretched to 20 points early in the second quarter and seemed to be on the verge of running away with the game, but the Rams were able to stem the tide and went into halftime down 46-26.

Coming out of the halftime break, the Rams started work on a comeback.

Porter Creek quickly cut the lead to 15 in the first few minutes of the third quarter and down to 10 with 2:38 remaining. When the third was over, the Crusaders were nursing a 57-51 lead after the Rams’ 25-11 run.

In the fourth quarter, the Rams scored seven straight points to take a 60-59 lead — their first lead of the half.

Vanier hit the next bucket to retake the lead, but the Rams continued to roll and had a six-point cushion with 3:45 left at 68-62.

Down 72-66 with 1:51 to play, the Crusaders were able to score three huge points and cut the lead to just three with 48.9 seconds remaining.

The two teams then traded baskets and with 11.7 seconds left in regulation, the score was 74-72 for Porter Creek.

Crusaders player of the game Josh Rumbaoa pulled up for a three that would have given the lead to Vanier, but he was fouled with 5.0 seconds left. Rumbaoa hit two out of three foul shots to tie the game at 74-74.

The Rams came out of the timeout with a plan and got the ball to Kiiwaadin Swan, the Rams player of the game, for the final play.

Swan drove through the heart of the Crusaders defence, pulling the ball down to avoid the outstretched arms of Crusaders forwards Rylan Stoker and Sam Wanless before kissing a reverse lay-up high off the glass for the 76-74 win as time ticked down to 0.3 seconds.

“It was two screens, get him the ball and attack,” said MacDonald about the last-second play call. “I anticipated a foul and maybe a foul shot. … He does make those shots. I get mad at him when he shoots those at practice, but he does practise those and makes those.”

MacDonald credited his team for playing hard to get back into the game.

“We went and had a little chat at halftime and I just said that the guys that are going to play the hardest are going to get the minutes,” said MacDonald. “I just said (take it) possession by possession.”

Despite being down big, the Rams bench stayed engaged and were the most vocal group in the gym.

“You see how deep the bench is. There are 15 guys there and you can only play five,” said MacDonald, adding the support from the rest of the team was a definite help. “When you’re out there playing, … you’re inspired to play hard for those guys.”

The Rams again defended home court on Jan. 24, earning a 93-86 win against the F.H. Collins Warriors. Players of the game were Sahil Kumar for F.H. Collins and Cole Robulak for Porter Creek.

With two weeks of Super Hoops in the books, the Rams lead the boys standings with a perfect 3-0 record. Vanier is second at 1-1 and F.H. Collins is third at 0-2.

On the girls side, the F.H. Collins Warriors remain undefeated at 2-0 with the Vanier Crusaders at 0-1.

The final round of Super Hoops games are Feb. 20 and 21, with the Warriors visiting the Crusaders on Feb. 20 and the Rams visiting the Crusaders on Feb. 21.

The Super Hoops semifinals are scheduled for Feb. 25 at Vanier and the finals are planned for Feb. 26 at Porter Creek.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

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Vanier Crusaders player Chad Williams drives into the lane during a Super Hoops game against the Porter Creek Rams on Jan. 23 at Porter Creek Secondary School in Whitehorse. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)

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