Shorthanded Elijah Smith team wins basketball championship

Going into the Yukon championship, the Elijah Smith Eagles girls team didn't have a short bench, they had no bench.

Going into the Yukon championship, the Elijah Smith Eagles girls team didn’t have a short bench, they had no bench.

With only five players the Elijah Smith Eagles went undefeated for gold at the Yukon Schools Athletic Association Grade 7 Basketball Championships on Saturday at Porter Creek Secondary.

“Pure heart and a lot of food between games,” was the key, said Eagles head coach Kasia Leary.

“They were undefeated this tournament – I was so impressed … I’m just amazed how they worked as a team. They had to use all five players. They didn’t have one star, it was all five of them on all the time.”

The Eagles won all seven of their games – two with only four players instead of five.

They claimed the gold medal with a 37-17 win over Christ the King Wolverines in the final.

“I’m happy that we won,” said Eagles player Emily Scott. “We had a lot of strategy and we kept together, made sure that we had lots of quick passes. We had some experienced basketball players too. We had Kamryn (Williamson), Olivia (Blisner) and Sammy (Demchuk), who are really good at basketball. That helped the team a lot.”

Despite having no subs and playing their third game of the day, the Eagles somehow managed to pick up steam as the final went on.

The Wolverines, who had nine players on the squad, pulled within one at 11-10 with a buzzer beater from Nicole Farkas at half and took the lead on a jump shot from Remie Cherepak to start the second half.

But the Eagles took back the lead on a basket from Blisner and later went on a 16-point run to make it 33-15. Darci Trociuk and Scott both scored six points in the run.

“They had to change their game plan and I think they had to pick up their back-up reserves for energy,” said Leary.

The new game plan was “faster passes and getting down low for the rebounding to get that quick shot off,” she said.

The Jack Hulland Hawks defeated the Holy Family Hurricanes 34-26 to capture the bronze medal in the girls tournament.

On the boys side of the championship, the Selkirk Bears defended their title with a 29-22 win over the Jack Hulland Hawks in the final.

Christ the King Wolverines took the bronze with a 52-32 win over the Takhini Timberwolves.

The gold medal win for the Elijah Smith girls marked the first for the school in basketball in six years.

“The other game we were a little nervous about was the quarterfinal against Teslin,” said Leary. “They were the first really tall team we had played against. It felt like playing in the trees. They were fast as well and they were rough, so the girls had to fight hard this morning to make it through that game.”

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