Whitehorse’s six senior high school basketball teams were all on the same side at the Don Hather Basketball Tournament in Skagway, Alaska, on the weekend.
It was Canada versus U.S. with every game a match-up between Alaskan and Whitehorse teams and the local boys did not disappoint. For the third straight year Canada came out the victor on the boys’ side of the tournament.
The Vanier Crusaders and the Porter Creek Rams boys teams both went undefeated to down the Americans six games to three. Including an overtime loss to Alaska’s Angoon Eagles, the F.H. Collins Warriors went winless. (Facing a two-time state champion team on the female side, the Whitehorse girls came up short, losing five games to four.)
The Rams clinched the win for Canada Saturday morning, defeating the Angoon Eagles 52-33, expanding a one-point lead at half to 19 by the final buzzer.
“I was happy with the performance, but I don’t think we’ve showed (our best) at all yet,” said Rams head coach Paul MacDonald. “The last 10 minutes of the tournament is when I really saw them play as a team … It was definitely worth the trip down. The kids enjoy it and I love it.”
In two closer games, the Rams also defeated the hosting Skagway Panthers 51-46 and the Thunder Mountain Falcons from Juneau 59-54.
“That was a battle,” said MacDonald of the Falcons game. “They were small and quick – lots of full-court pressure … This was just our second game of the year.
“It’s the same old thing: the kids from Alaska have fundamentals from such an early age and are really getting coached …You get down to Alaska and these kids are so well drilled in fundamentals, are so quick and have been around the game. There is definitely some good high school ball there.
“They sleep and drink and love basketball in Alaska,” he added.
Leading the Rams in points were co-captains Brady Bonnycastle and Peter Hanson, with 62 and 37 points respectively in the tournament. Both were named to the All-Star team. Teammate Brady Demys was third on the team with 24 points over the three games.
The Crusaders had an easier go of it in Skagway. The team, which won its first two games of the Super Hoops season in Whitehorse, stayed undefeated by beating Skagway 50-31, Angoon 62-28 and Thunder Mountain 63-51.
“I thought the team played well, which was evident from the scores,” said head coach Dave Thomson. “We did really well against the Alaskan schools. It depends on the year. Some of those small towns have really good years and this year, I guess, we were well out in front of them.”
Well out in front in scoring for the Crusaders was captain Brian Prenoslo, scoring 58 points, including a 24-point performance against Thunder Mountain. Also racking up the points were Mason Gray with 39 and point guard Rowan Huggard with 33. Prenoslo and Huggard were both named to the tournament All-Star team.
“Rowan Huggard is very much a steadying influence out there,” said Thomson. “He’s the one that makes everything go. Rowan’s the one who brings the ball up the court and makes sure everyone else gets the shots that they need. He does a very good job of that.”
Though the F.H. Collins Warriors failed to secure a win, don’t count them out in Super Hoops and the Yukon championships. The team, which lost 47-45 to Angoon, 52-22 to Thunder Mountain and 41-31 to Skagway, was missing some key parts in Skagway.
“We have a large Filipino contingency on our team, including Bryan Hermosa, our best player, and they couldn’t cross the border,” said Warriors head coach Tyler Bradford.
(Hermosa represented the Yukon at the Western Canada Summer Games this past summer in Kelowna, B.C., and was named to the tournament All-Star team.)
Out front in scoring for the Warriors was Owen Hedstrom-Langford with 32 while captain Will Thomson, the team’s only Grade 12 player and All-Star, topped out with 22.
“I thought it was a great time,” said Bradford. “Our players who went all seemed to have a great time and it was great hospitality by Skagway as always. So it was fun to go down, win or lose.”
Contact Tom Patrick at