Rams win championship in final seconds

There was an electrifying end to the senior girls basketball season on Thursday. The Porter Creek Rams launched a huge fourth-quarter comeback to win in the dying seconds in the final of the YSAA Yukon Basketball Championships at F.H. Collins Secondary.

There was an electrifying end to the senior girls basketball season on Thursday.

The Porter Creek Rams launched a huge fourth-quarter comeback to win in the dying seconds in the final of the YSAA Yukon Basketball Championships at F.H. Collins Secondary.

“It’s crazy. The season has been really even for all the teams and for us to come back from such a stretch was really crazy – to win by one point,” said Rams captain Megan Lanigan. “I’m really proud of my whole team.

“We were really down on ourselves for a bit. But then we huddled in and said, ‘OK, let’s push through and win this. Senior year: let’s go all the way with it.”

The Rams took the Yukon title with a 61-60 win over the F.H. Collins Warriors.

Down by a point, Lanigan sunk two free throws to put her team up by one with just two seconds on the clock. Lanigan, who was named tournament MVP, had 15 points in the final and sunk four of eight free throws, including the final two to win it.

“I was pretty scared, I’m not going to lie,” said Lanigan of the game-winning free throws. “First I thought: I can mess up one, and we’ll be tied. But when I got (the first) one, I thought, ‘Let’s just end it here and not draw it out any longer. If I miss, my coach is going to kill me.’”

Porter Creek went into the fourth quarter down 50-39. The Rams pulled to within three at 52-49 on a 10-point run, with a handful of turnovers. Lanigan had three steals and teammate Daria Jordan had one in the 10-point streak. Lanigan and Jordan finished the game with six steals each.

Jordan, who was named a tournament All-Star, led the team with 22 points.

“She’s feisty, she’s passionate and she’s very fast,” said Rams head coach Kasia Leary of Jordan. “We were a little nervous when she fouled out at the end, when we had a minute and a half left there. So I was impressed when the other girls could step up.”

The Warriors didn’t even know they would play in the final until earlier in the day. In the playoffs the Rams defeated the Warriors, the Warriors defeated the Vanier Crusaders, and the Crusaders defeated the Rams. So the three teams were tied with matching win-loss records.

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The finalists were determined by which team had the least amount of points scored against them in the round robin. However, a calculation error originally put the Crusaders in the final with the Rams.

The error was detected early Thursday and the Warriors were put in the final, having just one less point scored on them than the Crusaders.

“We didn’t know we were playing today until noon,” said Warriors coach Sarah Crane. “So I think they were just thrilled to play… It’s been a bit of a roller coaster day.”

F.H. Collins went on an incredible 18-point run in the third quarter, expanding a 32-31 lead to 50-31.

Warriors’ Sam Burgis opened the run before All-Stars Quynh Nguyen and Jay Kelly filled in the rest.

Kelly had 10 points and eight steals in the final while Nguyen, with her dangerous outside shot, led the team with 22 points.

“She gets that shot off so quickly and she’s so consistent,” said Crane of Nguyen. “And she works her butt off on defence.”

A short bench became a factor for the Warriors in the fourth quarter. The Warriors had just one sub on the bench while the Rams had six.

“Our numbers were a factor, for sure,” said Crane. “It was a tough, fast game, and they had lots of fresh legs. I think we were definitely feeling it by the end of the game.”

“Porter Creek was playing like they had nothing to lose. We sat back just a bit and they caught us on that,” she added. “That’s all it takes.”

The Rams and Warriors traded the lead numerous times in the first half and neither had a lead exceeding four points.

Porter Creek took a 57-56 lead with 1:13 remaining in the fourth, but the Warriors moved back in front on a basket by Nicola Lazeo-Fairman with 39 seconds left. Kelly then made one of her nine steals in the game to make it 60-57 for the Warriors.

Before sinking the winning free throws, Lanigan made a steal and a layup to make it 60-59.

“The girls really had to trust each other, rely on each other, and push hard,” said Leary. “F.H. had a press with six players and at the end I said, ‘We have to press if we’re going to catch up.’ As soon as they did, they started forcing turnovers and the game was at a different level.”

Colleen Prenoslo and Sadie Pater, of third place’s Vanier Crusaders, were also named tournament All-Stars.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com