Senior Boys: Mouat 86 vs. Abby Senior 62
The Quadruple-A Mouat Hawks may not be the top-ranked team in the province like the Triple-A Abby Senior Panthers, but that didn’t stop them from putting the pressure on the cross-town squad all night long.
This year’s Mouat squad is eight-cylinders of speed, and smooth as jazz on a Friday night. Behind veteran point guard Jimmy Litt and shooting guard Jordyn Sekhon the Hawks are all about narrowing the transition period between offence and defence, and running opposing teams into the ground along the way.
The Panthers are also known as being a fast, athletic team, and while individually they match up or even exceed the Mouat roster in speed and size, they don’t combine for exponential greatness with the transformer-esque finesse mastered by the Hawks. Moeiz Athaya and Jordan Fox kept their Abby counterparts in the game for 20 minutes, but down the stretch it was Mouat who pulled away.
The story of the game for the Hawks was sharpshooter Jass Singh, and his 20-point second half performance. The Panthers guarded Singh with the ultra-athletic Chase Claypool in the first half, but after Claypool picked up a couple fouls and went down with an ankle-injury, his mark found a chance to shine. Four three-pointers later the Hawks had amassed a significant lead and other players were joining in on the three-point party. While the Panthers were able to create shots all game through the creativity of Athaya and Claypool, Fox was the only player in an Abby jersey with equivalent shooting percentages to the Hawk elite. Claypool may have thrown perfect no-look passes through the key, Jordan Goheen may have bled, literally bled, as part of his rebounding quest, but the Panthers couldn’t put the ball in the hoop with the same level of efficiency.
The game was in danger of lulling in the mid-fourth quarter, with Mouat up a solid 20 points, when both coaches decided it was time to put in the bench and give the second-string a chance to shine. The ensuing scramble generated some of the most enthusiastic cheering of the entire match as little-seen (but apparently well-loved) players played for their moment of glory on the championship stage. it was a fun end to a good game and culminated in some nice inter-squad back-slapping in the handshake line.
Sekhon had 15 points for the Hawks, while Athaya put up 18 for the Panthers. Singh and Athaya were named the players of the game.
Senior Girls: Mouat Hawks 67 vs. MEI Eagles 59
The city tournament senior girls final was an interesting experiment designed to answer the following question: how good are the Mouat Hawks without star sisters Alicia and Cierra Roufosse?
The answer is pretty good, pretty darn good. The Hawks were deep enough today to beat their cross-city rivals the MEI Eagles despite gaps in the roster, and despite the pressure of playing for a city tournament championship.
Of course, Mouat needed a nefarious scheme to prevail, and theirs involved continually double-teaming MEI forward (and future teammate of the Roufosse sisters at UFV) Taylor Claggett. The double-team left the Hawks vulnerable elsewhere, but nefarious schemes are always gambles that only become brilliant if they work.
In the first quarter the Eagles established an 18-11 advantage off of the work of posts Grace Siemens and Claggett. Together they found openings, hitting the right passes when the Hawks double-teamed Claggett. Taylor Cousins piled up an absurd number of interceptions mid-court and capitalized on most of them. The MEI machine was humming away, which meant it was time for the Hawks to up their game.
The war for the second quarter was won with the mighty hand of Alicia Unruh, as well as the soft touch of Brittany Wertman, who sunk a buzzer-beater three at half to cut the Eagles’ lead to 29-27.
In the second half Mouat continued to outscore MEI, and put together a five-point 60-55 lead with only a 1:38 remaining. Unruh found the back-breaker with a three-point play just before the final minute, and the Eagles weren’t able to recover at the last.
Unruh had 26 points in the game, including 20 in the second half. Her partner in crime, Penielle M’Bikata, proved herself queen of the transition game with numerous layups behind the defence. Claggett finished with 15 points.
Junior Boys: MEI Eagles 72 vs. Mouat Hawks 57
Today the MEI Eagles junior boys showed exactly who rules this city, winning the city tournament final by a solid fifteen points and threatening to run away with the game several times. Their opponents, the Mouat Hawks, are a solid squad, but they don’t have the advantage of two six-foot-three centres down low, or the phenomenal ball-handling skill of Noah Nickel at point guard.
The Hawks finished the first quarter with a 12-11 lead, but were outscored by the Eagles 25-8 in the second quarter. Nickel and Brenden Loewen were the real culprits behind that second-quarter streak, as Nickel pulled moves straight out of an NBA video game.
In the third Mouat adapted to the MEI offence and began collapsing harder to MEI’s towers in the post. The Hawks found their own 10-0 run on the backs of post Jugi Malhi and the esteemable Zach Plummer to climb back into striking distance.
Still, the Eagles were too strong an opponent to crumble under pressure. Number 10, Kyle Claggett showed he was more than just a six-foot pretty face by wracking up the assists and draining a critical three, while fellow tower Cade Smith exploited coverage gaps down low.
Malhi drained another three in the fourth on his way to 23 points for the Hawks, while Nickel finished with 20 points for the Eagles (Smith had 18). Both Malhi and Nickel were named the players of the game.
Junior Girls: Abby Panthers 60 vs. Mouat Hawks 53
In the most intense contest so far, the Abby Panthers beat the Mouat Hawks at their own game with a tumultuously explosive performance. The Panthers not only handled the Hawks’ fabled press, but also put on some pressure of their own in the front-court.
Still, no giant ever goes down easily. The Hawks forced overtime on a last-minute trey from elusive guard Amna Hadzovic after coming on strong in the fourth quarter. The two teams were closely matched through the contest, and while the Panthers led for much of the game, it was never by very much.
The Hawks attacked early with a suffocating full-court press. While the Panthers coughed up the occasional steal, they also capitalized with several beautiful fast break plays to Nyesha Seebaran for layups. Abby led 27-19 at halftime courtesy of a beautiful press-break masterminded by point guard Gabrielle MacGregor.
The second half was even more intense than the first, as the two teams traded turnovers, interceptions, and missed buckets. The physicality of the Panthers began to haunt the squad as the fouls piled up, while Mouat kept a relatively clean sheet. Still, it wasn’t until the fourth that the Hawks began to make a comeback.
Mouat trailed by only five (43-38) with two minutes remaining. A minute and a half later, down only by three, the Hawks ran an outside screen for Hadzovic that gave her the space to drain a perfect three-pointer to tie the game. The Panthers couldn’t find a counter, and the Hawks left the bench to cheer at the buzzer as if they’d won the game instead of simply prolonging it. After being down for almost forty minutes, Mouat had found the clutch when it mattered most.
In overtime the Hawks struck first, but a trey from Abby’s Marissa Dyck and a put-back from Seebaran sealed the Panthers’ victory.
Hadzovic, Seebaran, and MacGregor were all named players of the game. MacGregor led the Panthers with 18 points, while Mouat’s Hadzovic scored 21.
Grade 8 Boys: Eugene Reimer Ravens 51 vs. Colleen & Gordie Howe Bulldogs 31
Analyzing the Ravens vs. Bulldogs matchup, it would be easy to conclude that the Ravens’ main advantage is the height of 6′-plus Gurkarn Mangat, but that would do a disservice to the Ravens’ depth.
Mangat is a threat on offence and a prime rebounder on defence, no doubts about that, but Reimer also has a skilled trio of guards in Harjot Dhaliwal, Prab Sran, and Ruban Sidhu. The Ravens move the ball with a creativity that would benefit most junior teams, while busting moves with eye-widening confidence.
The Bulldogs have some decent skill players in their own right, including sharpshooter Jevan Uppal and slashing guard Taylor Franklin, but could not match the size or organization of the Ravens. Unable to penetrate against the presence of Mangat, and struggling from beyond the arc, Howe gave up an early lead and never managed to recover.
Still, the Bulldogs kept the deficit to 10 until the mid-fourth quarter, and threatened several times to take control of the game. In the fourth, Uppal drained two consecutive threes to pull his squad within eight, then stuffed Mangat inside to spark his teammates.
The Ravens responded with a transition basket from lightning-quick Dhaliwal, before benefitting from a jaw-dropping behind-the-back layup from Sran.
Mangat led the Ravens with 18 points, while Franklin put in eight for the Bulldogs. Both were named players of the game.
Grade 8 Girls: Clayburn Cougars 23 vs. W.A. Fraser Falcons 16
The Clayburn Cougars and W.A. Fraser Falcons have already met once this year, but the events today prove that their rivalry is only beginning.
The Falcons are a tall, strong team centred around the post presence of Kelsey Roufosse. The Cougars possess one of the best natural point guards in the city in Caylee Watrin. Both teams know how to score, how to win, and how to punish opponents with stifling presses.
Fraser jumped out to an early 6-1 lead in the first quarter, but were answered by a basket and assist from Watrin to make it 6-5. Still, Clayburn’s explosive point guard was kept somewhat in check by Falcon Brooklyn Gordon, who deflected or intercepted a number of passes on defence.
Neither team found any sort of shooting groove in the first half, and so it was almost an entire quarter before Fraser found another basket to build on their initial six points. The Falcons pressed hard in the second, but Watrin dribbled her way out of pressure with little difficulty and found further points in transition. Teammate Kayla Wilford was also key to the Cougars attack, while playing an essential defensive role against Fraser’s post presence.
Both teams scored a combined two points in the third, meaning that the quarter was a deep breath before the storm. In the fourth the Falcons tried triple-teaming Watrin in the mid-court, while the Cougars double-teamed Roufosse in the paint. Watrin still could not be stopped and the Cougars scored eight points in the quarter to put the game away.
Watrin led the Cougars with eight points and a player of the game award. Tana Pankratz was awarded player of the game for the Falcons.
The Falcons knocked off both Eugene Reimer and MEI on their way to Saturday’s final, while the Cougars made their way through Chief Dan George and Colleen & Gordie Howe.