The Yukon Basketball Championships for the senior teams turned out to be a repeat of the Super Hoops. Other than a coed team from Watson Lake that played a couple exhibition games, both the girls’ and boys’ draws consisted of just the three Whitehorse high schools.
In fact, the girls’ final resulted in a rematch between the Super Hoops finalists with the FH Collins Warriors defeating the Porter Creek Rams 72-59. For the boys, the defending champion Warriors eked out a tight 79-75 win over the Vanier Crusaders. Both games took place Wednesday at Porter Creek Secondary.
Warriors defend title from Crusaders
As tradition dictates, the Warriors took turns cutting down the netting from the hoop that they sunk the necessary baskets through to take the Championships. However, the mesh is not going to end up in some trophy case in FH Collins. After each player gets a snippet the remainder will be sent to the team’s original coach Jamie Shaw, who’s away being treated for leukemia.
“He’s been there for us in every single way,” said Warrior Tony Nguyen of Shaw, who’s been coaching him since he entered high school. “He changed our lives and has done so many the little things… This game was totally dedicated to him and we pulled it out, so it feels great.”
Like with the girls’ final, maintaining a lead was a constant struggle for the leading Warriors. Starting the second quarter up 24-13 and expanding the lead with three triple-point shots, the Warriors began to lose ground as the Crusaders started hitting some triples of their own. At half the Warriors were up 45-43.
“We had a bunch of guys in foul trouble, so we had a bunch of guys who don’t play a lot playing quite a bit,” said Warriors coach Jeff Cressman. “I wasn’t too worried because I knew I was going to put my other guys back on at some point.”
“We’ve had trouble starting a lot of games this year,” said Crusaders coach Sean McCarron. “I don’t know if it’s Grade 11 jitters, but we do start games slowly.
“Next year this entire team is returning… I’m sure next year they won’t be making some of those mistakes.”
Named the Championship’s MVP was Nguyen, who scored a massive 41 points. A senior, Nguyen has been accepted to the University of Augustana in Camrose, Alberta.
“They have a spot for me and my number (on their basketball team),” said Nguyen.
Logan Gray topped the list for the Crusaders, putting 28 points on the board.
“He’s been a big part of our team all year,” said McCarron of Gray. “He’s got a lot of heart and this is his second year playing senior, so he’ll be back next year and I think he’ll be tough to stop.
“Next year I hope we’ll be cutting down the net.”
Rams fall short in comeback attempt
Emotions were running rampant on the Warriors bench as they struggle to keep their heads above water. Even Warriors coach Ann Jirousek had her fill of mixed emotions following the win.
“Sad,” said Jirousek, when asked how she feeling. “I’m glad the girls won but at the end of the season I’m always a little sad.
“My seniors are feeling it too – it’s their last game – and some times we’d go into a huddle and they’d be in tears.”
Dominating the start of the game, early in the second quarter the Warriors looked to be running away with the championship, going up 28-12. However, in the dying seconds of the half, Ram Devon Hanson sunk a jumper to move to within one at 33-32.
“Our intensity went down for a while and just weren’t making smart decisions on offence,” said Warrior Andrea Abbott. “Then we brought it back together.”
Despite bringing it “back together,” the Warriors squandered another healthy lead in the second half, falling into a 49-49 tie at the start of the fourth.
“One of my top shooters was as cold as ice,” said Jirousek of the eventual MVP Chantai Minet. “The first quarter she shot well, the second and third she didn’t – partially it’s nerves.
“They want to win pretty badly and some times when you want to win so badly, it interferes with how you play.”
Even with a bit of a midgame scoring drought, Minet still racked up 24 points. Teammates Michelle McKay and Jennifer Curtis contributed 17 and 14 points.
For the Rams Beth Ferguson led the way with 24 while Amanda Kelehev put 14 worth through the steel and Aylia Tuzlak racked up 17 points.
“She’s our best rebounder, she was point-guard at the end of the game, she’s the kind of kid that does everything,” said Rams coach Mark Hureau of Tuzlak. “She’s really the spark plug of our team… She played the entire game, we didn’t take her out once.”
Contact Tom Patrick at