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GOING UP STRONG – Big Bigness player Jeremy McCulloch powers his way to the basket during the sixth annual Kilrich Building Centres Lights Out Basketball Tournament last weekend. Photo by CREATING KILTER PHOTOGRAPHY

Basketball players shoot the lights out

The sixth annual Kilrich Building Centres Lights Out Yukon Invitational Basketball tournament brought the hoops to town for three days of action.

By John Tonin on February 14, 2020

The sixth annual Kilrich Building Centres Lights Out Yukon Invitational Basketball tournament brought the hoops to town for three days of action. The tournament brought out 27 teams - the most in the tournament’s history according to organizer Lianne Fordham. She attributed the growth to a few factors. “It’s the most teams we’ve had out,” said Fordham. “It was almost double than last year. Basketball is becoming more popular, and the Raptors’ success is helping. As well, the town is growing and more youth are getting involved.” Included in this year’s rendition of the tournament was a youth division. It’s the first time it’s been included. Boosting the numbers further were the six travel teams that participated. Fordham said there was a women’s team from Vancouver that shined. “There was an amazing women’s team from Vancouver that came up,” said Fordham. “They were so flawless and smoked all of us. They were beautiful to watch.” Fordham said the Vancouver team was happy to see the territory, as well plans are in the works for them to come up again to run clinics for the youth. “They were so excited to see the Yukon and see the size of the basketball community,” said Fordham. “They work with Aboriginal youth doing basketball clinics. We would like to see this (Lights Out) become a week-long thing.” Development of the game was still on display during Lights Out and Fordham hopes that trend continues in the future. “We hope to see more clinics and more development,” said Fordham. “Basketball Yukon had a refs clinic as well as developed scorekeepers for the Arctic Winter Games. It was more than just about the players and the games.” What’s attractive about the Lights Out tournament, Fordham said, is the sense of community. “The best part is it was all game on the court and everyone played to their full capacity,” said Fordham. “Off the court it kept that community feel.” Using the tournament as preparation for the upcoming Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse was the boys’ basketball team - who played in the men’s division. Coach Tim Brady said it was a good learning opportunity for the team. “I thought we did pretty well,” said Brady. “We won our first two games then played in the quarter-finals and lost by two points in a game that could have gone either way. “It was a good weekend to learn from. It was our first games as a team. It helped us understand and learn where we are at.” Competing against older and strong athletes, Brady said the team held their own. “We were undersized throughout,” said Brady. “It’s high school guys playing men. They are stronger and play the game differently. “The more physical style is hard to replicate but we held our own. The offence was good and we moved the ball well. I think we averaged 85 points a game.” Brady said playing in Lights Out gave the coaches and athletes a good look at where they are at . As wewll, it helped build consistency. Also, it allowed him to see the necessary adjustments to make before the Games begin. “Our system was good, just a few tweaks,” said Brady. “On defence, there are a few things to work on to help us. On offence, we need to work on inbounds plays and early shot clock possession.” In the boys’ championship game, the Rams outlasted the Crusaders 63-54. On the girls’ side, fans were treated to a closely contested match. The Warriors defeated Vanier by four, 48-44. Big Bigness secured the Lights Out men’s title over AK Sport Shop 92-78, in an entertaining game as described by Fordham. In the women’s final, Strathcona nearly doubled up the Whitehorse All-Stars 94-56. For the women’s final, Fordham said an all-star team of Yukon and Alaskan women were put together to face the “incredible” Strathcona team.

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