CANADA GAMES: QUARTER-FINALS
New Brunswick 77 – Saskatchewan 74
With aggressive play and success at the rim, New Brunswick took a 38-29 lead over Saskatchewan after the first half. In the opening minute of the second half, Saskatchewan guard Braxton Dirham suffered a lower leg injury, had to be helped off the court, and did not return. Saskatchewan rallied around their fallen teammate and put together an inspired 15-4 run in the first five minutes of the third quarter to take the lead.
The teams traded baskets and played at a high pace until they were tied with 35 seconds remaining in the match. Out of a timeout, New Brunswick guard Keegan Gray swished a ten-foot jumper from the left side then stole the ball on the ensuing inbounds to seal to win and a spot in the Semifinals.
“I knew someone had to make a play and everyone was looking nervous so I thought this was my turn to step up,” Gray said after the game. “When I got the shot I took it and when I left my hands I knew it was in.”
Gray finished with 14 points, Stanley Mayambo led the team with 20, and Bradley Stanford chipped in 18. Atlee Simon led Saskatchewan with 17.
“These past few years NB hasn’t placed that high,” said Gray. “After winning this game we know we’re in the top four teams and we’ve shown people that NB can play basketball and that’s what we came to show people.”
Quebec 87 – Nova Scotia 83
As the lead grew for Nova Scotia people began to wonder what was happening to a Quebec team who had gone undefeated (3-0) in pool play and are the defending Canada Games gold medalists from 2009. The gap ballooned to as many as 23 points before Quebec began to chip away.
A team with a flair for the dramatic, Quebec battled their way back into the game and trailed by just eight headed into the final frame. With a strong fourth quarter where they shut down the Nove Scotia attack and made decisive drives to the basket, Quebec came out on top and survived another close game.
“We ended the half really well with a nice long three, and then during halftime we spoke about it and knew we had to come out a lot harder defensively to finish the job,” said James Tyrell. “We closed it out with really good defence.”
Manitoba 92 – Newfoundland 75
After hitting two early three pointers, Newfoundland never saw the lead again as Manitoba consistently found ways to score and shut down the perimeter game of their opponents. Manitoba led by as many as 22 points in the match thanks to their inside scoring and ability to take away Newfoundland’s biggest weapon – three-point shooting.
“Our main strategy was to contest every shot they took,” said forward Billy Yaworsky. “We knew they put up a lot of shots. They had attempted 105 threes going into the game so we knew they were going to hoist them.”
The pressure on the perimeter forced Newfoundland into shooting just 8/27 from long range, while Manitoba’s ball movement resulted in 9/25 from beyond the arc, beating Newfoundland at their own game. Yaworsky finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds, and Ben Miller added 15 points, six rebounds and five assists. Cole Long had an outstanding game in the loss for Newfoundland with 26 points on 73 per cent shooting and 13 rebounds.
Manitoba is in the semifinals for the second year in a row, and hope to replicate their trip to the national finals from a year ago when they play a motivated Quebec team Thursday night at 6:00 P.M. local time.
Ontario 94 – Prince Edward Island 45
Team Ontario continued to roll with another convincing win. At one point the lead was 51 points and Ontario dominated in almost every statistical category. With the win, Ontario moves on to the semifinals where they’ll face New Brunswick tomorrow night at 8:15 P.M. local time.
Corey Johnson led Ontario with 17 points and believes the team is where they expected to be at this point of the tournament. “The key is to keep this momentum rolling through the semis tomorrow and into the finals,” said Johnson. “We’ve got to keep pushing ourselves and playing to the best of our abilities. We have to bring our energy and focus with our zone and jump on teams early and when we do there’s very few teams that can keep up with us.”