The F.H. Collins Warriors saved their absolute best for last.
After a pair of losses to the Porter Creek Rams leading up to the final, the Warriors ran off with a 61-37 win to claim the senior girls title at the Yukon Basketball Championships on Thursday at F.H. Collins Secondary.
“Over the season we worked on quite a few things, but we didn’t let all the horses out of the gate until tonight,” said Warriors head coach Ann Jirousek. “A lot of it was working on the girls’ confidence and belief in what they can do. Tonight I said, ‘You just have to let it all go.’ So they did. They showed what they can actually do.”
“We’re excited for the years to come,” she added.
And so they should be. All-Star Dannica Nelson is in Grade 11 and fellow All-Star Jetta Bilsky is in Grade 10.
Championship MVP Jayden Demchuk, who led the Warriors with 25 points in the final, is also in Grade 10, which means she can have two more seasons with the team.
“Jayden is a great all-around athlete and a great leader on and off the court,” said Jirousek. “She wants it as much for herself as for the rest of the team and she’s willing to put herself out there every night, every practice.
“I believe Jayden could play college or university ball.”
After taking silver in Skagway’s Don Hather Memorial Tournament and silver in the Whitehorse Super Hoops league - with a loss to the Rams - it was nice to end the season golden, said Demchuk.
“We feel great. It’s hard to describe how good we feel right now,” she said. “We feel accomplished. We worked so hard for this and we finally got it.”
The Warriors dominated early on. They sunk outside shots like nobody’s business and boxed out like Fort Knox to finish the first quarter up 22-8 and the half up 40-20.
The Rams, on the other hand, took most of their shots from the free throw line. Twelve of their first 20 points came from foul shots.
With 14 players dressed for the game, the Warriors had less concern over running into foul trouble. The Rams had only seven players dressed, two of which were out with injuries by half.
“Every time we play F.H. it’s a tough game. F.H. has a lot of great players and I think my girls did an amazing job holding their own with five players,” said Rams head coach Nicole Cross. “It was a good game. Congratulations to F.H.”
All-Star and rebound machine Kennedy Cairns led the Rams in scoring with 15 points in the final. Teammate Kataya Ulrich had 14.
Bilsky and Nelson had 18 and seven points, respectively, in the game.
Bilsky and Nelson “played great tonight; they played such a good game,” said Demchuk. “We’re all really proud of ourselves.”
With the win the Warriors picked up their first senior (Grade 11/12) banner for the gym at the new school that opened January.
Last year’s senior girls champs, the Vanier Crusaders, took the bronze.
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Blanche Pagobo (Crusaders)
Kennedy Cairns (Rams)
Emily Mervyn (Rams)
Jetta Bilsky (Warriors)
Dannica Nelson (Warriors)
MVP Jayden Demchuk (Warriors)