KAMLOOPS, BRITISH COLUMBIA
Yukon’s boys’ basketball team will be looking to maintain the energy they produced in the first quarters of their two losses as they face NWT for fifth place on Monday at the Western Canada Games in Kamloops, BC.
“That should be a good match. We’re looking forward to it,” said Yukon head coach Tyler Bradford. “We want to make sure we’re boxing out and make sure we’re making all our free-throw opportunities. Again, in this game, we were missing a lot of free-throws.”
The Yukon squad was pushed into third in their pool of three teams with a 75-32 loss to Manitoba on Saturday and an 84-26 loss on Sunday to Team BC, the tournament favourite. NWT took third in their pool as well.
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“BC seems like they are the best team here,” said Bradford. “They are big and strong and fast.
“Our boys worked really hard, hustled the whole game, and I think our defence was a lot better this game. Especially Peter Jensen, he was working really hard on the ball.”
In both games, the first period was the Yukon’s best.
The team went basket for basket with BC in the first three minutes of the game, up to 6-6. However, after a lineup change in the other end, BC team made three straight steals, capped with successful fast breaks, eventually growing a 21-point lead by the end of the first period.
Against Manitoba, Yukon finished the first quarter just six points back at 15-9.
“We came out fired up and we’re ready for the game,” said Yukon captain Jon Koltun. “Their skill level is probably a little bit higher than ours, so, once they get a lead, we start to feel there’s no chance.”
The chances were there in both games for the Yukon, but the team just wasn’t hitting the mark. Yukon sunk just 23.1 per cent of field goal attempts against Manitoba and 26.8 against BC.
Things were worse from the free-throw line, draining just four of 17 free-throw attempts against BC and seven of 32 against Manitoba.
“Our effort level has been really good, but we’re just not finishing on our shots, making enough free-throws,” said Koltun. “The execution is killing us.
“I’m not really sure (why). I think it has something to do with our guys not taking enough time at the free-throw line; they are rushing it a little bit. Not all of them have a routine before they shoot, that’s probably effecting it.”
Named Player of the Game for the Yukon on Sunday was starter Brady Dendys, leading his team in rebounds with five.
“He played a pretty strong game,” said Bradford. “He matched up against their best player and he did a good job defending him. He’s competing hard, so he was a good choice.”
Yukon’s Player of the Games against Manitoba was shooting guard Bryan Hermosa, who led the team with 15 points and gobbled up nine rebounds.
“Bryan is a fantastic player with an outstanding offensive game,” said Bradford. “He just naturally knows what to do with the ball and can get around guys. He’s a gifted player.”
Dendys also had a strong game against Manitoba, racking up eight points and 12 rebounds.
“We felt our boys played hard, but I’m disappointed in our execution,” said Bradford, following the Manitoba game. “We missed (25) free-throws, which is tough. We can’t give away points when we have a chance to make them.
“I think the boys are a little overwhelmed. It’s a big change from playing at home, playing here, but they did all right. They played hard.”
“Just execution, we have to drain more of our shots and finish when we’re close to the hoop,” said Koltun, looking towards Monday. “We’ve been missing a lot of shots that we should be finishing.”
See full coverage of the Yukon-NWT game in Wednesday’s Yukon News.
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com