Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Sabres win the Sr. Boys banner at 2015 Chinook Post Season Basketball Tournament

2014/15 Livingstone Sabres
Chinook Basketball League 2015 Post Season Champions
Pincher Creek again hosted the Chinook Basketball League Post Season Tournament, with games at St. Michael's and Matthew Halton schools on Friday and Saturday, March 6 and 7.  In the Senior Boys competition the  Livingstone's Sabres had a couple of tough games against the Fort Macleod Flyers and the Coalhurst Trojans, but ultimately managed to win the Post Season banner for first place.  The Trojans won second place and the Flyers won third place.

Coverage of the Senior Girls competition will be published shortly as a separate article.

Participating teams:
Coalhurst Trojans
Crowsnest Pass Panthers
Fort Macleod Flyers
Livingstone Sabres
Nanton Raiders
Nobleford Blades
Piikani Redmen
Pincher Creek Dragons
Pincher Creek Hawks
Vulcan Hawks

Preliminary games

These games were played during the week before the tournament and were between the bottom 6 teams in the Chinook league. The winners of each game earned the right to participate in the weekend tournament.

Crowsnest Panthers vs Nobleford Blades (Panthers win)

CCHS Hawks vs MHHS Hawks (MHHS wins)

Piikani Redmen vs JTF Raiders (Piikani wins)

In Pincher Creek

Livingstone Sabres vs Crowsnest Pass Panthers

Lundbreck's Livingstone Sabres established a huge lead early in this game, and kept on scoring to a wide-margin win over the Crowsnest Panthers.  Jonathan Erickson of the Sabres was top scorer in the game with 20 points, followed by teammates Chris Cail and Ross Cook with 16 points each, and Matthew Kenney of the Panthers with 15 points.

Coalhurst Trojans vs Pincher Creek Hawks

The Trojans defeated Matthew Halton's Hawks by a wide margin in this game.  Top scorer was Riley Johnson of the Trojans with 18 points, followed by teammates Keegan Zmurchyk with 12 points and Stefan Hughes with 11 points. Top scorer for the Hawks was Matthew Duncan with 10 points.

Kainai Warriors vs Fort Macleod Flyers

In another wide margin game, Fort Macleod's Flyers defeated Kainai's Warriors.  The game was fairly even for a while, stalled for a long at 7-9 for the Warriors in the first quarter.  The second quarter too was a real contest, until about midway through it.  Then the Flyers began to pull ahead, building on it through the rest of the game.  Kainai's Tim Eagle Speaker was top scorer in the game with 20 points, followed by Aiden Kidd and Shody Perry of the Flyers with 19 points each.

Flyers vs Warriors
Pincher Creek Dragons vs Piikani Redmen

St. Michael's Dragons defeated Piikani's Redskins by a wide margin, but not without cost.  This was an intensely physical game, fast and furious with plenty of rough stuff.  The first basket went to the Redskins, and the first quarter saw the teams tied several times, ending in a 19-19 tie.  That trend continued until around the halfway point of the second quarter, as the intensity continued to ramp up, and then the Dragons started to pull inexorably ahead. The Dragons were ahead 44-29 at the half.

Dragons vs Redskins
Scoring was very close in the third period, the Dragons outscoring the Redskins by 6.  My notes for that quarter summed up the action as "Bam! Pow! Bif!"   It was that physical, particularly on the Redskins' side.  The Dragons nursed their wounds and rebounded yet again to dominate the final quarter.

Top scorer in the game was Dragon Jake Varley with 26 , followed by Teammate Michael Svab with 22 points.  Top scorer for the Redskins was Michael North Peigan with 13 points.

Livingstone Sabres vs Fort Macleod Flyers

This was one of the most, exciting games held in the Dale Wentz Memorial Gymnasium at St. Michael's School this season.  The Sabres finished the regular Chinook Basketball League season in first place, undefeated, and the Flyers finished it in fifth place.  This game demonstrated how tough this competition is this season, as the Flyers proved to be a formidable challenge for the Sabres.  The first quarter ended with the Sabres ahead 23-17.  Ross Cook burned up the court for the Sabres.  That small margin was maintained in the second quarter, with both teams scoring 17 points each, the Flyers often within a point of the Sabres, the score 40-34 in the Sabres' favor at the half.  That first half featured lots of big, long passes connecting for both teams, and lots of long shots that were often not connecting.  Defence seemed to be the weak link for both teams as the ball moved from basket to basket.

Eric Cadonic led the Sabres' charge to the net in the third quarter, scoring 12 points and helping to widen their lead to 64-52 going into the final quarter.  The Flyers weren't done yet though.  The long shots that Aiden Kidd of the Flyers was missing earlier all of a sudden turned into sure shots, and he began to sink them with an astounding regularity, scoring a total of 18 points in the quarter.  Behind the whole game, all of a sudden the Flyers were ahead 69-68, then 71-68.  The Sabres brought it back to a 74-74 tie, with 4:25 remaining in the game.  Then the Flyers pulled ahead again, up 77-74 2ith 2:35 left.  Ross Cook brought it back to a tie, 77-77.  Jonathan Erickson put the Sabres ahead again, to 80-77.  Then the Flyers tied it up again, and with 31.8 seconds remaining it was 80-80.  A large crowd perched on the edges of their seats.  With the clock running down, Chris Cail of the Sabres dove for the rebound on a missed Flyers free throw, passed it off to Jonathan Erickson, who flipped it across the court to Ross Cook, back to Erickson, and on to Brady Douglas, who made a long shot count, at the buzzer, to pull out the win for the Sabres at 82-80.  Check the short video of that final play here.

The win qualified the Sabres for the Final game.

Both of these teams played like champions in this one.

"They came to play," said Sabres Head Coach Duane DeCock of the Flyers.  "They're a good shooting team, they shot a lot of threes, deep, and they got a little run on us, and yeah, it was tough."

Pincher Creek Dragons vs Coalhurst Trojans

The Trojans dominated the middle quarters in this Final qualifier against St. Michael's Dragons.  Dragon Chet Root sustained a serious injury in the first quarter, and what had been a fairly evenly matched game turned into a rout after that, with the Dragons already behind by 16 points at the end of a rough and ugly first half.  Flustered and not connecting, the Dragons also underperformed in the third quarter before picking  up their game, matching the Trojans for points in the final quarter, but too far behind to make a difference.

Top scorer of the game was Mitchell Zoratti of the Dragons with 20 points, followed by Flyer Keegan Zmurchyk with 15 points and teammate Darren Mercer with 14 points.

Pincher Creek Dragons vs Fort Macleod Flyers for Third

The Flyers won all but the final quarter in the game for third against the Dragons. Final score 70-53 for the Flyers.  Top scorer in the game was Aiden Kidd of the Flyers with 23 points, followed by teammate Ty Odney with 21 points.  Top Dragons scorers were Mitchell Zoratti with 13 points and Kyle Knowlton with 12 points.  Third place for the Flyers.

Livingstone Sabres vs Coalhurst Trojans for First

The Sabres maintained a slight edge over the Trojans in the first half during this battle for first place, and then almost let it slip away in the second half.  The Dragons were ahead 34-29 at the half,  and 53-46 at the end of the third.  The Trojans began a big push near the end of the third, which they carried over into the final quarter.  With 7:16 remaining the score was 55-52, and shortly after the Trojans were ahead for the first time at 56-55.  Back and forth it went, and with 2:11 remaining the score was tied 62-62.  That's where it stayed to the buzzer.  Five minutes of overtime followed.  Brady Douglas scored for the Sabres, making it 64-62 in their favour.  Then Jake Entz of the Trojans tied it again at 64-64.  After that it was all Sabres on the scoreboard, with Brady Douglas, Eric Cadonic, and Jonathan Erickson all scoring to put the Sabres ahead by a definitive 73-64 at the final buzzer to win first place.

The outcome of this game also reflected the Chinook Basketball League's regular season final standings, which had the Sabres in first place with the Trojans right behind them.

A sideline highlight of this game was the tremendous amount of support the Sabres were shown by members of the Dragons (Girls and Boys), the MHHS Hawks, and local fans.  The memory of that amazing cheering section will survive long after the scores and details of this game are forgotten.

"It was a battle, they're a tough team," said Sabres Head Coach Duane DeCock after the game. Of the support the Sabres received from the other local teams he said  "Awesome, great kids, yeah, we thoroughly appreciate that.  They're good friends with a lot of our guys."

Assistant Coach Paul Erickson said of the game "Oh yeah, it was awesome.  We knew Coalhurst was just going to battle hard.  They did, and the boys came through and hit some big shots at the end.  Good game.  We'll probably see them again next Saturday night at the Zone finals."

On Wednesday night this week the Sabres travel to Zones to contest for the right to go to Provincials.  "We just want to get there and do the best we can," said DeCock.  

2015 Championship banner hoisted by Eric Cadonic and Ross Cook
of the Livingstone Sabres
Post Season Past Champions 
2013/2014 - Boys: Livingstone, Girls: Coalhurst 
2012/2013 - Boys: Coalhurst, Girls: St Michaels
2011/2012 - Boys: St. Michaels, Girls: Livingstone 
2010/2011 - Boys: Livingstone, Girls: St. Michaels 
2009/2010 - Boys: Piikani, Girls: St. Michaels

Related stories:

Kainai wins the Sr. Girls banner at 2015 Chinook Post Season Basketball Tournament

Kainai Lady Warriors top Sr. Girls team at 2015 Hawks Basketball Classic

Related link/source: Chinook Basketball League website

Videos by Joey Jackson and Chris Davis
Photos by Kim Jorgensen, Joey Jackson, Toni Lucas, Chris Davis

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