It was a busy weekend for Senior Basketball. Last Friday and Saturday (Feb. 3-4), the Senior Girls hosted the Credit Union Classic at the SVRSS while the Senior Boys travelled to Winnipeg, attending the Linden Christian Hoops for Hope Tournament.
Seven teams came from across Manitoba and Saskatchewan to participate in the local tournament. The Kamsack Spartans, Kelvington Golden Hawks, Gilbert Plains Trojans and Hudson Bay Riders along with Russell’s Major Pratt Trojans and Brandon’s Neelin Spartans and Crocus Plains Plainsmen, all travelled to attend the tournament.
Those lucky enough to have been at the SVRSS gymnasium for the Championship Final witnessed some great basketball – a tight game between the Tigers and Plainsmen that resulted in a 60-59 victory for the visitors.
“The Tigers were ready to play and started the game strong, as did the Plainsmen,” said the Tiger Girls’ Head Coach Shayne Yaschyshyn.
“At the end of the first quarter the Plainsmen were up 14 to eight. The Tigers came out in the second with some urgency and played strong on both sides of the ball to take the lead going into the half 23-22.
“The Tigers played well rounded basketball in the third quarter and started the fourth quarter with a six point lead,“ continued Yaschyshyn.
“In the fourth quarter the Tigers played a strong game, but the Plainsmen came out with a renewed urgency and the lead went back and forth the entire quarter. At one point the Tigers were down by eight but they came back to be in the lead with less than a minute left in the game.”
Although both teams fought hard for the win, the game was forced into overtime.
“The play went back and forth and both teams were leaving everything on the floor,” said Yaschyshyn. “In the end the Plainsmen sneaked out the victory.”
Despite the loss, Yaschyshyn had a positive attitude about the game overall.
“We played one of, if not the best, basketball games in recent memory against the Plainsmen,” said Yaschyshyn.
“We played a very sound game with a level of intensity that showed why we are having the success that we are this year.
“While the loss was heartbreaking, we played at a level against a team that is a contender for the AAAA Provincial Championship and, with that in mind, we can take this loss as a win for our continued growth this year.”
In the championship semifinal the Tigers came up against the Gilbert Plains Trojans which ended in a 88-35 victory for the Tigers.
“Gilbert Plains is a well-structured and well coached team,” said Yaschyshyn. “The team is coached by Swan Valley native Trevor Beals and, for a young team, is having a lot of success this season.
“The Tigers came out strong, got an early lead and after the first quarter they were up 22-9.
“The Tigers played strong with relentless full court pressure to amass a lead of 38 points by halftime with the score being 52-14,” continued Yaschyshyn.
The Tigers maintained strong defensive play for the rest of the game that earned them the win.
“We came ready to play and we controlled the play really well,” said Assistant Coach Ian Kitch. “These last two games allowed a lot of playing time for everyone on the team, which are valuable minutes as game play is a good learning experience.”
The tournament started off Friday morning with the Tigers facing the Kamsack Spartans which resulted in a 66-42 win for the Tigers.
“The Tigers came out slow but got into a steady rhythm at the halfway point of the first quarter and at the end of the first quarter were up 22-6,” said Yaschyshyn.
“The Tigers continued this play in the second quarter and at the half the score was 34–7.
“The Spartans came out strong in the third quarter and the Tigers came out too complacent which allowed the Spartans to control the play and at the end of the third quarter the score was 43–26,” continued Yaschyshyn.
The Tigers refocussed and came out strong in the fourth quarter to cinch the win that placed the Tigers in the Championship final.
Ali Henkelman was named as one of the tournament all stars.
Yaschyshyn expressed appreciation for the score keepers and referees who helped out during the games, and to all of the parents who came out to support the athletes.
“Overall the Tigers hosted a very successful tournament,” he said.
“This could not have happened without the dedication of our local referees: Ronn Vestby, Laurie Munroe, Nyle Williams, Sayle Williams, Jody Williams and Duane Whyte.”
After all the hard work and four consecutive weekends of competition, the SVRSS Senior Girls’ Basketball team is going to have a short rest before travelling to Gilbert Plains on Feb. 17 to participate in the GPCI Trojan Senior Tournament.
The boys’ team came home from Winnipeg with a third place finish, and some real intense game experience.
The team’s third and final game was played against Steinbach Christian High School which resulted in a close 97-96 point victory for the Tigers.
“We had played a very intense and up-tempo game in the semifinal earlier in the afternoon, and we had a tough time finding our legs early in this one,” said Boys Head Coach Kevin Carter.
“Steinbach Christian is a hard-working group with a couple of guys with some good size active in the rebounding game and could jump out of the gym.
“Put that with a couple of quick guards who could shoot the ball well and we had our hands full.
“They jumped out to an early lead in the game and held it throughout the first half and we went into the break with a 45-39 deficit.
The third quarter was much the same and the team found themselves lagging behind in the score.
“We started to find some stability offensively and got some stops on defence to put us within reach,” said Carter. “Then a timely three point shot in the final 30 seconds tied the game at 77 after regulation.”
What happened next is a reflection of how hard the team played and how good they have become.
“We went into the overtime period with a little momentum and scored the first four points of the extra period, but our opponents were not going to roll over and came back,” said Carter.
“We held a two point lead going into the last few seconds of the overtime, but gave up a layup in the dying seconds that tied the game and sent us into a second overtime period.
“The second overtime was similar to the first where we scored the first couple of buckets. The score went back and forth in the last couple of minutes and with a couple of free throws we held a three point lead going into the final possession.
“We did give up a late two,” continued Carter. “But, with a three point lead, a good decision down the stretch allowed us to hold on for a one point victory.
The team’s hard work paid off, as Carter noted that they had a tired, but satisfied team at the end of the day.
In their semifinal game, the Tigers played against the R.D. Parker Trojans from Thompson which resulted in a tight 67-65 loss for the Tigers.
“They are always a strong, up-tempo, well-coached squad and they have themselves poised to challenge for Provincial Championship currently holding a No. 6 ranking in AAA basketball,” said Carter.
“The game did not disappoint and our guys stepped up to the challenge and were ready to play.
“This was a fast-paced, focused and intense game. We worked hard and matched their effort throughout and saw ourselves in a tied game at the half, 37-37,” continued Carter.
“We went into a scoring slump in the third quarter that allowed Thompson to pull ahead by nine points at the end of the third.”
The team’s tenacity showed here when they fought back.
“To their credit, our guys did not fold their tents we went scratching and clawing our way back again to give us a chance to tie the game at the end,” said Carter.
Despite the loss, the team displayed hard work and determination.
“We were definitely very happy with our effort in what was likely our best game of the year,” Carter said.
In the opening game of the tournament on Friday (Feb. 3) the Tigers played St. Norbert which resulted in a 64-57 win for the Tigers.
“Going into the weekend we knew we would have to play well to get ourselves onto the A-side of the draw,” said Carter.
“We opened well, and a one point lead at the end of the first quarter was stretched to 11 by the half. We continued with steady play in the second half and carried through with the win.”
Overall the team is happy with their performance and outcome of the tournament.
“This was another successful weekend for our team not only from a win-loss perspective and taking third place in the tournament, but from the progress in our level of play,”
“In the past three weekends, we have seen our play improve each week, and I think we are starting to prove to ourselves that we are capable of playing with some of the top ranked teams in the province.
“We are starting to learn that we have to push the tempo and be ready to play at a fast pace,” continued Carter.
“We will continue to work to get better everyday and put ourselves in a position to be playing our best basketball down the stretch and into the provincial qualifying period of the season.”
The SVRSS Senior Boys will also have a short rest after a busy three weeks. Their next game is the first of three in the zone playoffs against Dauphin Feb. 21 in Dauphin. They will also be hosting the Kinsmen Tip-Off Tournament on Feb. 24 and 25.