The second annual Jamie Shaw Memorial Tournament was Dec. 12 to 14 at F.H. Collins Secondary School as basketball teams from the Yukon and Alaska met for an early-season showcase. Joining the host F.H. Collins Warriors were the Vanier Crusaders and Porter Creek Rams from Whitehorse as well as teams from Haines, Alaska, and Skagway, Alaska.
The tournament doubled as a fundraiser for the Jamie Shaw Memorial Fund, a fund designed to provide access to training and development for athletes and coaches in the Yukon. In addition to donations, the tournament also included a charity pancake breakfast and a silent auction.
Last year’s tournament was a Hollywood ending in many respects, with the Warriors winning both the boys and girls finals on their home court and dedicating the wins to Shaw.
This year, the Warriors again progressed to the finals of both the girls and boys tournaments.
The girls final was a rematch of last year as F.H. Collins took on the Skagway Panthers.
Things started slowly on the scoreboard, with both teams feeling each other out early on. Four minutes into the game, the score was 3-3.
The Warriors played their trademark high-pressure defence, forcing turnovers and creating fastbreak opportunities, and parlayed that effort into a 16-7 lead after the first quarter.
On the other side of the ball, Skagway tried to pack the paint on defence but the Warriors were able to push the ball and not allow the Panthers to get setup. Toward the end of the second quarter, the Warriors began to run into some offensive trouble as the Panthers started to collapse into the paint faster but were able to continue to build a healthy lead. At halftime, the score was 28-13 for the Warriors.
Panthers forward Peyton Rodig tried to take advantage of the absence of Emma Boyd inside, who suffered an injury for the Warriors earlier in the tournament, but the Warriors depth shone through as the host team contained Rodig’s scoring and also rebounded the ball effectively.
In the second half it was more of the same. The Warriors had a 42-23 lead at the end of the third quarter and went on to win the game and the championship 54-30.
Maren Bilsky, a veteran player on the Warriors, said the win means something extra to her and her teammates.
“I wouldn’t even care if we won the finals of the Yukon Championships — this is the tournament that means the most,” said Bilsky. “This win makes my heart sing.”
Diedre Davidson, who filled in behind the Warriors bench for head coach Christine Kirk, said the team’s basketball skill and knowledge was instrumental in the win.
“They know how to play basketball. They know what they should do,” said Davidson. “They know they should be spaced out, they know when they run the lanes they should be wide, they know about help defence, so we were just kind of building off of some of their knowledge. This was all about them getting to play.”
More importantly than that, Davidson said the tournament was a fitting tribute to Shaw.
“Jamie was an advocate of basketball in general, so the number of people playing, I think he would have been stoked about it,” said Davidson. “Obviously a win for the Warriors — this is his team — is fantastic, but I think he would be just excited about the number of players and the excitement around basketball.”
Once the dust settled on the girls final, it was time for the boys to take the court as the Warriors tipped off against the Vanier Crusaders.
The Crusaders stormed out of the gate, using their burgeoning brand of small ball to build a comfortable 30-16 lead after the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Crusaders lead got as big as 20 points with just over four minutes left in the half. Up by 13 with time winding down, Crusaders guard Chad Williams drilled a buzzer-beating three from the top of the arc to steal any momentum the Warriors were building. After two quarters, the score was 55-39 for the visiting Crusaders.
The two teams played each other fairly evenly in the third quarter, although an injury forced Williams from the game with nearly four minutes remaining. The Warriors cut the lead from 15 down to 11, trailing 73-62 after the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the Warriors made the run everyone in the gym was waiting for. Ralph Hermosa and his Warriors teammates held the Crusaders without a point for the first five minutes and 45 seconds of the final quarter, scoring nine of their own along the way to get within two at 73-71.
Williams checked back in midway through the Warriors push, and after a few misses nailed a stepback three to stop the run and make it a two-possession game again.
From there, the Crusaders tightened up on defence and only allowed five points from the Warriors the rest of the way. The final score was 85-76.
Crusaders head coach Sean McCarron said his team knew to expect a comeback from the Warriors.
“We came out super hard, super strong (and) we hit a ton of shots,” said McCarron. “We had a little bit of an injury, we had some foul trouble, we knew F.H. — they’re such a good team, they’re so experienced, they have a phenomenal player in Ralph — would make a run at some point. I said to them at halftime, ‘They’re going to make a run. We’re not going to win this thing by 40.’”
McCarron said he doesn’t worry about wins and losses so early in the season, but a win in a game like this is always a bonus.
“You also want your team to step up where they might need it in two and a half months,” said McCarron, adding he’s got faith in his veterans. “I trust Josh (Rumbaoa) and Chad when they have help. … You want your best players to be in a position to make decisions and hope that they’re the best decisions for your team.”
For his part, Williams also mentioned trust postgame when asked about the feeling on the bench recovering from an injury while the Warriors went on a 9-0 run.
“I have belief in my teammates,” said Williams. “It don’t really matter. A lot of people can play ball on this team; I wasn’t really stressing about it.”
Williams finished the game with 32 points, while Rumbaoa added 25 points on nine of 14 shooting to go with 10 assists. Crusaders rookie forward Sam Wanless led the way down low, finishing just shy of a triple double with 13 points, 16 rebounds and eight blocks.
Contact John Hopkins-Hill at email@example.com