The Paul Kane Blues waltzed into the exam break after acing the second segment of their schedule in varsity men’s basketball.
The third win without a loss in 2010 was Monday’s 83-49 dismantlement of the winless Salisbury Sabres at Paul Kane High School.
“It was a good effort,” said Grade 11 guard Connor Bradley. “We knew they were weak and we wanted to take over the game and we did.”
The Blues slaughtered the Sabres 31-6 in the second quarter to lead by 25 at halftime. After three quarters it was 68-37 for the pool B leaders in the metro Edmonton premier conference.
“We really got pressure on their guards. We got tons of steals and tons of breaks and tons of points,” Bradley said. “We’re really using our speed and athleticism and it’s working out great for us.”
Tied at 17 after the first quarter, the Blues buffaloed the Sabres with nine straight points — two field goals by Bradley, a bucket by Khalil Bertin off a steal and a three-pointer by Shane Kolba — before Salisbury’s big man, Jordan Filippelli, sank a shot with about seven minutes left until halftime. He finished the loss with a game-high 19 points.
After Filippelli put the Sabres on the board in the second quarter, the Blues hammered the Sherwood Park team with consecutive three-balls by Kolba, Kevin Blair (beat the shot clock to make it 32-19 with 6:51 to go) and Bradley. The Blues closed out the quarter with 11 consecutive points to lead 48-23 at the break.
The third quarter started with a spectacular dunk by Blair at the 24-second mark. Blair was the top scorer for the winners with 18 points, including a pair of threes in the first half. His sidekick in the backcourt, the acrobatic Bradley, chipped in with 16 points on the strength of two threes. The dynamic duo took turns quarterbacking the offence while draining shots from inside and outside the paint.
“Kevin’s the playmaker. He’s the most athletic guy I’ve ever seen. He is just a man against boys out there,” said Bradley, who tacked up 12 points in the decisive second quarter. “We want to give him the ball and I try to do that and when he gives it to me I try and knock down the shot. Sometimes I need to create for my team and when the time presents itself I do.”
Bradley, 16, and Blair are the only returning Blues on the 13-man roster. Blair, 17, is also the last player remaining from the 2008 provincial 4A championship line-up.
“As veterans we’ve got to set the intensity and show the other guys what senior ball is and how hard you have to play and how hard we should work,” Bradley said.
The Blues are carrying four Grade 10s, in addition to six players from Paul Kane’s junior premier team that lost the 2009 playoff final.
Bertin, a Team Alberta U15 player from the Vincent J. Maloney Marauders, and Kolba, a junior grad, added 11 points apiece against Salisbury. Two of the team’s taller forwards, Sean Allen and Tyler Wise, also made significant contributions at both ends of the court.
“The rookies are getting into it right away. They’re getting lots of playing time and they feel confident out there,” Bradley said. “Obviously we’re young but there is no reason why we can’t be good this year. I think we can win our pool and make it to the premier final.”
The Blues are coming off a second-place 8-4 league record and losses in the 2009 premier semifinal and the metro zone 4A seeding playoffs.
“The athleticism is still there from last year,” Bradley said. “Obviously we’re small, just like last year, but our big guys are working hard down low and that’s kind of the same thing as last year’s team.”
Monday’s blowout was the fifth win in six games in premier for the Blues. Their overall record going into the exam break is 9-6, including a 4-5 mark in three tournaments.
“I really don’t want to have a break. We’ve been really gelling lately and we’ve been playing well,” said Bradley, who racked up a season-high 36 points at the Cardston Cougar Classic prior to the Christmas break, as the Blues lost the consolation final to Magrath by 20 points.
The Blues return to the hardwood Jan. 28 for the 20th annual Optimist Showdown in St. Albert tournament.
The next league game is Feb. 1 at home against the pool A-leading St. Francis Xavier Rams (6-0) at 4:45 p.m.