If every dog has its day, Tuesday was one for the underdog.
Reaching the finals win semifinal wins the previous evening, the FH Collins Warriors won the Super Hoops championships for the girls and the Vanier Crusaders for the boys.
Taking on the top seeded Porter Creeks Rams teams that had byes into the finals of the Whitehorse high school championships, the Warrior girls won 63-53 and the Crusader boys won 66-50.
Aside from trips through the semis, another correlation between the winning teams was both took leads in the first halfs of the finals and rode them through to the final buzzer.
The Crusader boys’ lead came in the first quarter. Down 3-0 to start the game, the Crusaders took a 4-3 lead on a lay-up from Ryan Henderson, soon taking an 11-3 lead on a free-throw by Logan Gray, who not only led the game in scoring with 16 points, but was also named the Super Hoops’ season MVP.
“Logan does a little bit of everything and he’s a great rebounder,” said Crusaders head coach Sean McCarron. “I don’t think he’s never not had a double-double in two years with me. He’s good for 20, 25 points every game.”
In the teams’ previous game, which the Crusaders won 73-56 last Friday to end the regular season, the Rams hit nine three-pointers. On Tuesday, the Crusaders were the ones draining it from downtown, hitting three from beyond the arc – two in a row from Arthur Mauro in the second – compared to the Rams’ lone three-pointer from Cameron Weeks.
“Our number one goal today was to defend the three,” said McCarron. “(The Rams) did a good job of cutting through the holes and getting some lay-ups because we were playing a little tighter on the three.”
Like Friday’s game, in which the Rams jumped out to a 10 point lead in the first, the team continued to have hot streaks, closing the gap to nine points at 57-48 in the fourth
“The same thing bit us again, just consistency,” said Rams head coach Logan Wedge. “In the second half we played a lot better – it was like two different teams.
“I’m getting tired of saying the same message, but that’s how it is.”
Following Gray in scoring for the Crusaders were Mauro with 15 points, and Jake Jacobs with 10.
Leading the charge for the Rams was Player of the Game Robin Smith with 15 points. Also helping out the team were Logan Boehmer with 12 points, and Riley Smith with eight.
In Monday’s Super Hoops semifinal, Gray again was the high scorer with 25 points, followed by Henderson with 12, and Gavin Clarke with nine. For the Warriors it was Riley Simpson-Fowler sinking 12 points worth and Tanner Coyne putting up 10.
In the girls’ final, not only did the Warriors have game, they had the full 10-player squad present for the first time all season, which caused the team to have a slow start, said head coach Ann Jirousek.
“I haven’t had all 10 even for practice,” said Jirousek. “So it took a little time to get that together. Most of the starters I put out in the first quarter, they’re all scorers – they all wanted to score. So they all wanted the ball and were going to the same spots. So it took a little while and a lot of yelling to make sure they didn’t go to the same spots.”
To help counter the overly offensive play, Jirousek put in defensive player Rachel Tredger to calm all the cooks in the kitchen.
“So there was one player who didn’t want to score, just play defence,” said Jirousek. “So just changing a little bit helped the girls relax and then they got into it.”
Neck-and-neck for the first quarter, the Warriors went on two small runs in the second, ending the half with a six-point run that continued into the third with a long outside shot from Dahria Beatty to make it 32-18.
“All the team was a little bit nervous – it was the Super Hoops finals – so we need to take a breath, take a look around and, as soon as we started seeing each other on the court and playing our game, it really helped turn the game around,” said Warriors’ Angela Burke.
“This game was fun because it was the first time our whole tem was together – it was kind of messed up for a while.”
With the Warriors dominating the boards, often getting three or four shots in a possession, watching the game could be unpleasant at times for Rams head coach Trevor Hale.
“It was brutal how badly they rebounded us; they got second, third, fourth chances to score,” said Hale. “Offensively and defensively, they pulverized us on the boards. It was frustrating to watch how many chances they’d get.
“It seemed tonight we weren’t ready to do the work that isn’t that fun. Everything else was great. I thought we moved the ball well on offence, were strong defensively.”
Beatty, a Grade 10 student who plays up in the senior division, was the Super Hoops season’s MVP for the girls and Player of Game with 30 points. Also propping up the Warriors were Nesha Wright, with 14 points, and Angela Burke, with eight.
Keeping the Rams in the game was Shannon Thompson, with 14 points, followed by Devon Hanson, with 13, and Katie Lowey, with 11.
The previous night in the semifinal, Beatty kept the scorekeepers busy with 32 points while Helen Hedstomg-Langford produced eight for the Warriors. For the Crusader girls, Sheena Greenlaw put up 13 points and teammates Brooke Neilson and Melanie Tait each had 10.
All Star teams
Joaquin McWatters (FH), Gavin Clark (Vanier), Jake Jacobs (Vanier), Robin Smith (PC), Cameron Weeks (PC), MVP Logan Gray (Vanier)
Sheena Greenlaw (Vanier), Nesha Wright (FH), Angela Burke (FH), Shannon Thompson (PC), Katie Lowey (PC), MVP Dahria Beatty (FH)
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org