Undefeated Crusaders win basketball championships

A shorter-than-usual season did not prevent a show of skill and talent at the Yukon Basketball Championships final at F.H. Collins Secondary High School on Tuesday. After trailing for most of the first quarter, the Vanier Crusaders went on to take an 86-45 win over the F.H. Collins Warriors in the senior boys final.

A shorter-than-usual season did not prevent a show of skill and talent at the Yukon Basketball Championships final at F.H. Collins Secondary High School on Tuesday.

After trailing for most of the first quarter, the Vanier Crusaders went on to take an 86-45 win over the F.H. Collins Warriors in the senior boys final.

“The boys played extremely well,” said Dave Thomson, Crusaders head coach. “They were tested in the first quarter and they responded. They played extremely good defence and I’m very proud of them.”

The Crusaders’ win capped an immaculate season record, not only going undefeated in the shortened Super Hoops series in Whitehorse, but winning all their games at the Don Hather Basketball Tournament in Skagway, Alaska, at the start of the year.

RELATED:Warriors rule supreme in final

Crusaders captain Brian Pronoslo points to a deep bench as the source for his team’s success.

“All the teams had good starters,” said Pronoslo. “You could see today, our bench went out and the lead kept building. It didn’t matter who we put on the floor – everyone can play.”

Still fired up from a close semifinal game the previous night, the Warriors jumped out to a 10-4 lead on a pair of successful free-throws from Bryan Hermosa at the start of the first quarter. But momentum shifted dramatically after Pronoslo sent the full stands into a frenzy with a slam dunk on a fast break – his third dunk of the season.

Crusader All-Star EJ New then gave his team its first lead at 15-14, capitalizing on a steal, and widened the lead to 18-14 on a shot from the paint a couple minutes later. The Crusaders would hold and expand the lead until the final buzzer, ending the first quarter up 26-16.

“We came out with lots of energy. I think that carried over from yesterday (in the semifinal),” said Warriors head coach Tyler Bradford. “We got into a little bit of foul trouble early there, (the lead) slipped away and we were getting out rebounded.”

Pronoslo, who was named season MVP, led the game in scoring with 22 points. Teammate John Apostol had 15 points and Mike Hare put in 12.

Hermosa led the Warriors with 19 points while Walter Hermosa scored nine and Owen Hedstrom-Langford had seven.

Crusaders’ Pronoslo, New and Rowan Huggard will be joining Warriors’ Hermosa, Josh Hanson and Hedstrom-Langford and captain Will Thomson on the Yukon’s male basketball team for the Arctic Winter Games.

“We play a lot of basketball,” said Pronoslo. “Rowan is great to have. He just controls the pace for us and makes us all very comfortable in the game. He gets us the ball when we need it. Everyone else plays their part.”

After letting an early lead slip, the Warriors held on for a close 73-69 win over the Porter Creek Rams in the semifinal on Monday.

“It was a pretty emotional and physically draining game,” said Bradford. “It was great – a little different from tonight.”

The high school basketball season was shortened to make room for the Arctic Winter Games taking place in Whitehorse in a little over a week. Extremely cold weather also caused the cancellation of some games.

Season All-Stars

Rowan Huggard (VCSS)

EJ New (VCSS)

Bryan Hermosa (FHC)

Will Thomson (FHC)

Brady Bonnycastle (PCSS)

MVP Brian Prenoslo (VCSS)

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

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