It could have been the comeback of championships, but, alas, it was not to be.
Not only did the Vanier Crusaders cut a 22-8 lead down to 28-22 by the end of the third, the intrepid team pushed to within three in the final seconds, eventually losing 38-34 to the Porter Creek Rams Saturday in the finals of the Grade 8 boys Yukon Championships.
“Vanier played really well in the second half,” said Rams assistant coach Tyler Milligan. “They brought out more hustle than they did in the first and I think that allowed for a very close game.”
Down 37-27 with three minutes left in the fourth, Crusader Elliot Berg came to life with three baskets, cutting through the key for one off the glass with seven seconds left. His drive moved the score to 37-34.
Not without some hot-streaks himself, Ram Scott Peterson led his team in points, putting 11 on the board.
“I don’t think he’s ever missed a practice and when he came he worked hard at every practice,” said Milligan. “We knew that when we put Scott out on the floor, good things are going to happen. We never doubted Scott Ã‰ he’s going to go far.”
Other top Rams scorers were Chris Anderson, with eight, and Ryley Andrew and Colin Kabanak – the championship’s MVP – each with seven.
In their first encounter on Friday, the Crusaders had greater success, defeating the Rams.
“We tried the same thing (as Friday), but we just fell short,” said Crusaders coach Paul Pritchard.
“We were trying to play with more intensity and get the ball around to our big guys for easy baskets.”
For Milligan, Friday’s loss might have had a little to do with a lack of enthusiasm among his team.
“We told them that they were going to be in the finals anyway, so maybe that added to it – they didn’t really try,” he said.
Surpassing Berg’s 10 points for the Crusaders was John Koloton with 13.
“He’s got great ball-handling skills and he knows what he’s doing out on the court,” said Pritchard of Koloton.
FH Collins Warriors finished third.
Warriors cool hot third-quarter Rams
“I tried to warn them that FH (Collins) was here to play,” said Rams coach Charles Demers. “But by the time they figured that out, it was too late.”
Despite a six-point run in the middle of the third quarter, moving within four at 14-10, the Rams fell short, losing 25-16 to the FH Collins Warriors in the Grade 8 girls’ final Saturday at FH Collins Secondary.
“I blame the school dance that they had last night,” joked Demers.
Finishing with nine points, Ram Megan Lanigan almost changed the game’s direction mid third quarter, storming the rim for two before making a steal that resulted in two successful free throws by teammate Jessica Chistianson. Lanigan finished the points spree with a fast break and lay-up.
“She’s been to every practice and is a real motivator,” said Demers of Lanigan. “She’s come a long way in her skills development.”
However, according to Warriors coach Michelle McKay, fresh players and overconfidence were partly to blame.
“We were trying to play more people that hadn’t been playing in the game yet,” said McKay. “They were feeling really calm Ã‰ I think they started to think they had it won, without finishing the rest of the game.
“That’s when we were being a little careless with our passes.”
The Warriors advanced to the finals with a last minute 27-26 win over the Vanier Crusaders in the semis. Warrior Julie-Anna Campbell sunk one to put her team up in the final seconds.
“She’s got extremely long arms and she uses them to her advantage,” said McKay of Campbell. “When someone’s coming in, she’s really good at seeing where the pass is going to go.”
Named the girls’ MVP in the tournament was Warrior Markie Bailie, who led her team with 12 points in the finals, followed by Emily Wilson with eight.
“She’s great on offence,” said McKay of Bailie. “She has a really consistent shot and she has great ball control. She can see the whole court so she’ll pass to everybody and drive through the middle when it’s open.”
The Crusaders finished third ahead of a team from Carmacks.
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