Superball ends with super finale
The Wellington Wildcats won Superball, in a game as intense as it gets in exhibition basketball.
The school’s senior AA boys’ team got past the D.W. Poppy Redhawks on Saturday afternoon at the Wellington Secondary School gym 87-85, but needed triple overtime to do it.
A foot-stomping, snare-drumming crowd helped inspire the home team to victory.
“It was pretty intense,” said Wildcats post player Aaron Copley, who scored a game-high 36 points. “The crowd really helped us to get this win.”
After the ’Cats led most of the second half of the game, Poppy pulled ahead late. Cole Musto hit a game-tying shot with 30 seconds left to force overtime.
In OT, Wellington’s offence slowed, but strong defence gave them a chance. Elijah Thornton made a steal with five seconds left in triple OT to deny the Redhawks a final shot.
“[We were] playing hard D,” Copley said. “If we shut them down on defence, offence will just come naturally.”
Brad Jenks scored 17 points, Till Inkmann added 14 and Dustin Olsen contributed 11. Poppy made the Wildcats work for every basket.
“It shows that we can beat really good teams, because Poppy is a really good team,” said Copley. “This is a step forward for us.”
Also participating in Superball were the Cedar Spartans senior AA boys, who lost in overtime to the Ladysmith 49ers in the fifth-place game Saturday. Cedar’s first game at the tourney was an 85-63 loss to the Ballenas Whalers. Jake Crow scored 21 points in that one, with Justin Engevik scoring 17.
The girls’ side of the draw at Superball saw the Wellington Wildcats go undefeated to win. One team pulled out of the tournament at the last minute, so the ’Cats senior AA girls played on both halves of their draw, tying themselves for first place.
Wellington’s Mariah Van Sickle said good team chemistry was a main reason for the victory, and she also credited the fans.
“It was good, everyone was cheering for us. It was fun,” she said.
Welly’s Sara Simovic was selected tournament MVP. The most notable victories came Thursday against Cedar, a 60-23 win, and Friday against Woodlands, a 63-36 win. Simovic scored 24 points in the win over Cedar, with Vicky Brown adding 11. Megan Cawthorne led the Spartans in that contest with 13 points. In the game against Woodlands, Van Sickle was top scorer for the ’Cats with 11 points and Ksenia Malenica of the Eagles scored a game-high 16 points.
Also hosting tournament action on the weekend were the Woodlands Eagles senior AA boys. They went undefeated Friday and Saturday, defeating the Barsby Blazers twice and the Nanaimo District Islanders twice.
The Eagles’ Bryson Cox was tournament MVP, scoring at least 25 points in every game including a 41-point effort in a 76-62 win over NDSS on Saturday. Erik Van Waes and Aaron Halsall were other top scorers for Woodlands.
The Blazers and Islanders split their games, with Barsby winning 72-64 on Friday and ND prevailing 65-45 the next day. Jordan Kuziek had a 31-point effort in one of his games and ended up as Barsby’s top scorer at the tournament. Aidan Goodall and Tyler Norris were ND’s high scorers.
In out-of-town tournament play, the Dover Bay Dolphins senior AAA boys placed 10th at the tough Saint Mike's University School Invitational tournament in Victoria. Dover started with a 104-47 loss to Bishop O'Byrne and a 77-69 loss to Belmont on Thursday, then fell 57-47 to Bowness on Friday morning before scoring a 69-68 win over St. Mary's later that day. The Dolphins finished the tourney on a strong point, defeating Cowichan 57-51 on Saturday led by Jon Bethell's 32 points. Other scoring leaders for Dover were Brandon Kumar and Spencer Hiemstra and the Dolphins were selected as the tourney's most sportsmanlike team.
The Nanaimo District Islanders were also on the road on the weekend, placing fourth at a tournament at Vancouver's Notre Dame Secondary School. ND started with a 60-56 setback against the Killarney Cougars despite a comeback attempt that saw them outscore Killarney 19-6 over the last five minutes. ND went on to defeat the Byrne Creek Bulldogs 60-52 in a comeback win, and finished with a 54-24 blowout win against the Lord Byng Grey Ghosts. Leigh Richardson was selected as a tournament all-star and she, Pauline Dawson and Jordyn Taylor earned player of the game honours.
COURT SHORTS … Tomorrow (Jan. 10) is a busy night of high school basketball action around the city. In senior AA girls' league play at 5 p.m., the Wellington Wildcats host the Isfeld Ice at the Wellington Secondary School gym and the Barsby Blazers play the Woodlands Eagles at the John Barsby Community Secondary School gym. In senior AA boys' play, the Cedar Spartans take on the Kwalikum Kondors at 6 p.m. at the Cedar Community Secondary School gym and the Woodlands Eagles host the Barsby Blazers at 6:30 p.m. at the Woodlands Secondary School gym. The Dover Bay Secondary School gym will be hosting a doubleheader, with the Dolphins senior AAA girls playing the Alberni Armada at 5:30 p.m. followed by the senior AAA boys tipping off their regular season against the Frances Kelsey Breakers at 7 p.m. Also, the Nanaimo District Islanders host the G.P. Vanier Towhees at 7 p.m. at the NDSS gym.