Hidden Valley Elementary School has a small student body, but its basketball players have a lot of heart, says head coach Bryan Clubbe.
“We’re the smallest school here,” said Clubbe. “We only have seven boys in Grade 7 that could play and they’re all here. One Grade 6 is playing with us even.
“It really came down to a lot of heart for this win.”
The Hidden Valley Huskies showed pluck with a late-game comeback to win the boys title at the Yukon Schools Athletics Association’s Grade 7 Basketball Championships at Porter Creek Secondary School on Feb. 11.
They took gold with a 33-30 win over the Ecole Emilie-Tremblay Grizzlies in the final.
“It was lit,” said Huskies guard Emerson Wild. “It was great. We really worked together to see what we could do. It’s a small school, we just worked together. Everybody (on the team) is friends.”
Things looked bleak early on for Hidden Valley, which has just 90 students, falling behind 6-0 to Emilie-Tremblay, which has about 240 students between Grade 1 and 7.
Trailing 20-12 going into the second half, the Huskies began to chip away at the Grizzlies’ lead, tying it 22-22 with 10 minutes left on a jumper from Wild.
Down again, Wild tied it once more before giving his team their first lead of the game on a free throw at 25-24.
“We had a shaky start that put us behind and we had to play catch-up the whole game,” said Clubbe. “Probably a bit of nerves. A bigger court — it was their first time playing on the full-size court here.”
The Grizzlies took back the lead on an outside shot from Gabriel Boudreau, but the Huskies still had a little left in the tank. With under a minute left Max Wanner drained a jumper to make it 31-30 and teammate Alex Gray put in another for insurance before the buzzer.
An almost-identical Huskies team also won the YSAA Grade 7 Volleyball Championships in November.
“We’re pretty ecstatic, I think. We’re definitely a volleyball school — we won the volleyball gold medal — and I don’t think we had as high expectations for ourselves in basketball,” said Clubbe. “We definitely had our eye on a medal, but this really exceeded what we were expecting. We just got better and better and better as the tournament went on. We got better at defence, shutting down the other team.
“Today we showed character. Perhaps that experience, winning gold in volleyball, they were able to play it cool, making that come-from-behind and shut it down and hold it for the win.
“I’m super proud of these guys.”
The Huskies produced six wins in seven games at the championship. Their one loss was in the round robin to Christ the King Elementary, who went on to take bronze with a 44-33 win over Golden Horn.
Whitehorse Elementary teams meet in girls final
Classmates turned into on-court rivals as two teams from Whitehorse Elementary School (WES) met in the girls final.
With gold and silver guaranteed for the school, WES No. 2 defeated WES No. 1 by a score of 18-6.
“Our girls — both teams — have practiced together since the beginning of the semester,” said WES 2 head coach Dan Girouard. “We knew that both teams were even and we were hoping for the best for both teams and it just so happened we met each other in the finals. One team had to win, but that’s the way it goes.”
Like the Huskies in the boys tournament, WES 2 suffered just one loss at the championship — also to the bronze winning team. Jack Hulland Elementary claimed bronze with a 20-8 win over Emilie-Tremblay.
“I’m real proud of all the girls and I’m hoping they’ll keep playing next year in Grade 8,” added Girouard.
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com