Lady Blues crowned junior champions
Paul Kane caps off undefeated metro Edmonton basketball season by winning division two junior women's final
Wednesday, Mar 12, 2014 06:00 am
Jasper Place – Winning a banner for their high school was the thrill of a lifetime for the undefeated Paul Kane Blues in metro Edmonton junior women’s basketball.
“It’s a feeling you can’t really explain. You have so many emotions going through your body. You’re just so proud to do it for your school,” said an overjoyed Sarah Cancian during Saturday’s post-game celebration.
The Blues finished 9-0 in league play after beating the Archbishop Jordan Scots 54-45 in the division two final.
“We worked our butts off all year for this moment. We really deserve it,” said Cancian, a Grade 11 point guard who scored 10 points in the team’s 16th win in 18 games this season.
The third metro junior women’s championship in school history is also the first for the Blues since winning the 2010 premier conference crown.
“The junior girls haven’t done so well so it’s really amazing to win it for our school,” Grade 11 wing Britney Hinecker said with a smile. “We really wanted to win it and it showed. We played hard all game.”
The last time the Blues and ABJ hooked up was in the final at the Memorial Marauders tournament.
“ABJ beat us by five so we were excited to play them again,” Hinecker said.
The playoff showdown featured the top teams in pools A and B, with ABJ at 7-0 before falling to the Blues.
“There wasn’t as much pressure on us in the league as there was in the final because we knew that’s when ABJ was going to see us,” Hinecker said. “They were real good competition for us. It was a really hard game.”
In the turnover-plagued see-saw affair the Blues led 18-10 after the first quarter and 30-28 at halftime, but trailed 41-38 entering the fourth quarter.
Cancian, 17, recorded six points in the opening period. Brittany Buchanan also tacked up six in the first half and Natalie Sluchinski ended the half with seven, highlighted by a three-ball to start the second quarter.
With under two minutes left in the third quarter ABJ nailed a three-pointer to break a 38-all deadlock for the its second lead of the period.
Hinecker, 16, kept the Blues in contention by scoring the team’s opening six points of the quarter on two free throws, a field goal off a turnover and an offensive rebound.
Buchanan’s basket gave the Blues a brief 38-34 advantage with under four minutes remaining before quarter time.
“There were some points where you started doubting yourself but we just really pushed through,” Cancian said of the team’s third-quarter letdown. “At the end of the quarter we got together as a team and said, ‘You know what? This is our game. We worked so hard to get to this point. We’ve lost no games. It’s our time now.’”
During a frantic fourth quarter, and ABJ on top 42-39, a 15 three-point run by the Blues in the last six minutes decided the outcome. Seven of the team’s 15 points came from the free throw line by Buchanan, Cancian and Hannah Spachynski against an ABJ squad decimated by fouls. Buchanan finished the game with 10 points.
“They were in foul trouble but they kept fouling and we kept getting our baskets,” said Hinecker, who ended the game with a basket off a turnover with only a few seconds on the clock.
Cancian, a second-year junior, was relieved to see the Blues prevail with a banner hanging in the balance
“We had to push really hard and I’m just so happy we got it done. It’s awesome.”
PK junior men
The Paul Kane junior men’s team lost only one league game all season, but it was for all the marbles.
The Blues trailed throughout Friday’s 73-70 loss to the Spruce Grove Panthers in the division two final to finish 11-1 in the metro league.
“From a team standpoint we’ve worked for this all year. We had the skill level to do it all and we fell short,” said captain Carter McKinley, a Grade 11 point guard who nailed five of the team’s 10 three-pointers in the loss. “Our team has always been great on threes. That’s what we really rely on for offence mainly.”
The Blues stumbled out of the gate while falling behind 22-15 in the first quarter and at halftime were down 43-35 against the Panthers (11-1).
“We didn’t really get the start we wanted. We came out really soft,” McKinley said. “They shot really well in the first half for sure and our defence was really lacking.”
In the fourth quarter, and the Panthers in control at 61-44, the Blues made a game of it as McKinley’s fourth three-ball of the period, the team’s fifth in the 10-minute frame, bounced in off the rim with 1:36 to play to cut the deficit to 69-66.
After the Panthers replied with a three-ball, Brendan Guy buried two free throws and Aiden Mueller sank two more from the line to pull within two of the leaders with 33.4 to go.
Hair-raising action ensued as shots failed to fall for both teams. The Blues were also forced to foul with the game on the line and the Panthers managed to make only one out of a bunch, but it came with 2.5 seconds on the clock.
Some calls also didn’t go Paul Kane’s way down the stretch.
“We came back strong in the fourth but just fell short,” said McKinley, 16, who scored a team-high 18 points in the loss.
Guy chipped in 17 points and Liam McKinnon’s 13 points included four three-pointers, highlighted by three in a row to end the first half.
In the last game before the playoffs to determine first place in pool B the Blues beat the Panthers 64-48 in Spruce Grove.
McKinley credited a stout defence throughout the season for putting the Blues in position to be successful.
“We worked our butts off on defence. Our offence wasn’t always there but our defence was. That’s how we pulled out wins.”