Classification Games

In their last match of the Canada Games, the Northwest Territories team showed heart and hustle and remained one of the feel-good stories of the tournament. Despite losing 90-18 to British Columbia the team stood and clapped and cheered through the final minute. 

“We came here to play our best and see how we compete with everyone, and before every game we said our team goals and for every game we accomplished what we wanted to do,” said Austin Smith, who opened the Games as the flag-bearer for the Territories. “I take away that I got to play against Ontario, got to play against guys that will probably play in the NBA, and I’ll remember that for the rest of my life. We’re going to close the gap between us and the better teams, come back and work harder on our weaknesses and stay strong as a team.”

British Columbia was led by Saren Westrop’s 23 points and they advance to play Alberta tomorrow for ninth place.

Saskatchewan jumped out to a 10-2 lead and never trailed in a 93-80 win over P.E.I. by dominating the rebounds and shooting 47% compared to 38% for the islanders. With 31 points in the match, Chan De Ciman set a new Canada Games record for points scored in a single match, besting the previous mark of 30 set by Quebec’s Kris Joseph in 2005 and Kemy Osse in 2009.

“I didn’t even know at first but now I’m excited to know that I beat the record set by an NBA player,” said De Ciman after the match. “I just had a good game, I guess, I was hitting everything and it came naturally. I learned from a lot of people that helped me develop, my brothers and sisters, my whole family’s in basketball so I grew up with it and had some great coaches”

Team Saskatchewan will play for fifth tomorrow against Nova Scotia after they won a tough east-coast match-up with Newfoundland 82-77. Nova Scotia dominated the fourth quarter 23-14 to seal the win, led by Johneil Johnson’s 23 points and 12 rebounds, and Nick De Palma’s 22 points.

Semifinal: Manitoba 82 – Quebec 76

Two very evenly matched opponents met in the first semifinal game at Palais des Sports and played a close game throughout. Manitoba and Quebec traded the advantage many times with a total of 18 lead changes in the game. 

With five minutes remaining in the match Quebec took the 69-66 lead and the momentum with a two-handed alley-oop jam by Jerome Desrosiers who finished with a team-high 20 points and 10 rebounds. In the final five minutes, Manitoba’s defence clamped down and a pair of consecutive three pointers by guards Joseph Medrano and Denzel Solivan pushed the lead to 75-71 with 1:30 left in the game. Out of Quebec’s timeout they air-balled a three point attempt and were forced to foul. Manitoba made their free throws and knocked off the defending Canada Games gold medalists in their own backyard.  

“I think we executed exactly the way we wanted to which is easy to say since we won, but we tried to get them to play to their weaknesses,” said Manitoba head coach Stephen Tackie. “These players united on defence and I believe what they learned from this is if you unite on defence; you’re together, because you’ve got to play as one, and it ended up pretty good.”

Pretty good was an obvious understatement for a team that will now play in their second consecutive title match after winning a silver medal at the 2012 National Championships, one year ago also in Sherbrooke.

“I thought we played hard with energy for a full forty minutes,” said Ben Miller. “We adjusted as we went and our matchups on defence were good. I knew we could do it, I wasn’t sure until after the game but I knew we had a good chance to go back to the finals.”

Manitoba was able to beat Quebec’s defence down the floor with sprint speed and long outlet passes that opened up the basket. Joseph Medrano led Manitoba with 20 points, Ben Miller added 16 and Billy Yaworsky grabbed 15 rebounds.

“We talked about them being slow getting back in transition so we had a feel for that and that’s the way we practice – we run all the time,” said Joseph Medrano. “We’re just going to enjoy the moment now. Shout out to Manitoba!”

Semifinal: Ontario 75 – New Brunswick 64

Ontario continued its unbeaten streak with the display of talent and athleticism they’ve shown throughout the tournament. A 24-12 first quarter lead sealed the deal as New Brunswick wasn’t able to come back, though they played on par with Ontario for the rest of the match. The overall size of Ontario proved to be an advantage as they rebounded better and scored more points in the paint to move on to the gold medal match Friday night at 8 P.M. (ET) on TSN2.

“We played focused, we played hard on defence and did what we do best and get on the fast break,” said Ontario guard Michael Asemota. “New Brunswick hit a couple shots at the end of the game because we just broke down at the end and they surprised us, but we’ll forget about that and move forward.”

This is the fourth consecutive appearance in the national U17 finals for Ontario. Ontario beat Nova Scotia two years ago at the 2011 National Championship held in Toronto, but lost the year before that in 2010 to an Olivier Hanlan-led Quebec team. Last years’ Ontario team took home the title in convincing fashion with a dominating 102-65 win over Manitoba and the 2013 squad are confident they’ll repeat the feat in the upcoming rematch.

“The guys worked really hard and I have to give credit to the New Brunswick team,” said Ontario head coach Fatih Asker. “They worked really hard and their heart was way bigger than ours and to be honest they outplayed us for about forty percent of this game and we weren’t able to match up with the intensity and we hoped to rest some guys before the final game but they ruined our plans. We had to play a lot of players and consume a lot of energy but we move on and tomorrow’s game is going to be very exciting, but we have 24 hours to get ready and we’re going to be fine.”

Ontario was led by Tyrell Gumbs-Frater’s 23 points, and 11 points apiece from D’Wan Williams and Calvin Epistola. New Brunswick’s Val Nelson scored a game-high 27 points.