The Paul Kane Blues waited until the fourth quarter in Saturday’s final to cap off a championship season in metro Edmonton division two junior men’s basketball.
The resilient Blues outscored the startled St. Peter The Apostle Spartans 34-10 in the last 10-minute period of the 81-72 comeback thriller at Jasper Place.
“Oh my gosh!” said an awestruck Drew Olsen while clutching the championship trophy. “It was really crazy. We came into the third quarter (down 40-28) and our energy was really down but all it took was like a ton more energy and we started working harder and it just came easy for us.
“Everybody participated in the game and everybody helped. Without every single player on the team it wouldn’t have been the year like we had. Everybody played a part in that comeback and it felt really good to be part of a team like this.”
The Blues finished 11-3 overall after placing fourth in the standings.
“There were a couple of games we thought that we could’ve won but then it came to playoffs and we won our first game (76-66 against the 7-5 Ardrossan Bisons) which we didn’t think we would have a problem with and our second game we played the first place team (11-2 Salisbury Sabres) and our energy that we brought to the game was unreal and we kept going and we scored a lot and we shut them down and when we won (56-52) we had a whole bunch of energy and we brought it here and it peaked in the fourth quarter,” said Olsen, a Grade 10 guard who was too good to be true in the decisive fourth quarter with four clutch three-pointers, including three in a row that left the Spartans (11-2) dazed and confused.
“I was shooting them earlier and I wasn’t really sinking them but then I hit a couple and it just kept going,” said Olsen, who finished with five threes in total for 18 points overall. I guess it was a turning point for us and then my team started hitting other threes.”
After the third three-pointer by Olsen, Mathieu Gautier closed the gap to 69-65 with a three and then Keegan Sharpe hit one of two free throws before Roka Phalen-Baker pumped in a three to tie it at 69 with 2:33 remaining.
Back-to-back baskets by Olsen and Sharpe put the Blues ahead to stay.
It was 73-71 Blues when Olsen whipped the Paul Kane fans into a frenzy with his fourth three-pointer of the quarter and fifth of the match and the team’s eighth of the final with 68 seconds to go.
The Blues closed it out with five free throws and the last four were deposited by Sharpe.
“It was unreal,” said Olsen, 16.
The Blues played catch-up while down 23-11 after the first quarter, 40-28 at halftime and in the second half trailed by as much as 23 points.
“We came into the third quarter down by a bunch and in the fourth quarter we got a three and our energy got up just a little bit because it was a little bit of a hope but then we just kept hitting our shots and we kept shutting them down on defence,” Olsen said. “Playing together like we did really boosted us to come back and secure the win.”
Phalen-Baker finished with 16 points, including two threes, Dylan Wilson added 14 points and Sharpe had 11 as the lineup of Grade 10 Blues celebrated the first junior men’s basketball banner since the 2011 premier conference team.
Fans got their money’s worth in Friday’s metro Edmonton division two senior men’s marathon final between the Bellerose Bulldogs and Spruce Grove Panthers at Jasper Place.
Overtime was needed to decided the winner as the Bulldogs ran out of time in the wild and woolly 107-102 affair that lasted almost two and a half hours.
“Obviously it’s disappointing but we gave it our all,” said Grade 12 guard Joel Ngoga, who dropped an unofficial 25 points on the Panthers. “We’re going to keep our heads up because we know we don’t regret anything.”
There was never a dull moment as the two revved-up squads combined for more fouls than a porcupine has quills.
The Panthers led 25-21 after the first quarter, 49-44 at halftime and 73-66 after three quarters before the Bulldogs roared back to knot it at 77 on a three-pointer by Marcus Rogers-Kumar with 5:36 to play and 33 seconds later Matt Pilgrim’s three gave Bellerose a brief lead.
It was 85-82 Panthers when Ngoga nailed a three to tie and his go-ahead basket was scored with 1:28 remaining.
The Panthers pulled even with a basket with under a minute to go and then with 27 seconds on the clock fired a three-point to make it 90-87.
Rogers-Kumar forced OT with a clutch three with 12 seconds left.
“What triggered us in the fourth quarter was it’s never over until the final buzzer so you go and work your ass off until the final buzzer because that’s what’s important,” Ngoga said. “We had to lock in and trust each other because that’s what you’ve got to do on the basketball court. You’ve got to trust each other because that’s what it comes down to. You have to trust your teammates because they’re going to help you when you need them.”
The five-minute extra period seemed like it lasted longer than the fourth quarter as players from both teams took turns fouling out while the Panthers were able for the most part to stay ahead of the Bulldogs.
Noe Tchomo was responsible for five of the team’s 12 points in OT and his layup with 2:02 left tied it at 95.
The Panthers reached the 100-point mark with a three to lead by five with 1:25 to play and Dawson Murray’s three at the end of the game put the Bulldogs into triple digits.
“It just came down to execution,” Ngoga said.
A sketchy score-sheet made it difficult to determine the overall scoring totals but Rogers-Kumar, Tchmo, Pilgrim and Austin Thiessen joined Ngota as the main point producers against the Panthers (14-0).
The Bulldogs (9-5) also lost to the Panthers 87-73 in league play Feb. 5 at Bellerose and the team’s physical, two-fisted 69-63 confrontation against the host M.E. Lazerte Voyageurs (11-2) in the semifinals set the stage for the rematch.
“This season was big. We came together at the beginning of the playoffs and we showed that we wanted to work for this,” said Ngoga, 17. “We don’t quit because we put our hearts on the court. We don’t give up.”
“I just love my teammates. We’re brothers out there.”