Whitehorse Daily Star

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LEADING THE BREAK – F.H. Collins Warriors player Sahil Kumar, centre pushes the ball down court during the Don Hather Basketball Tournament in Skagway over the weekend. Photo submitted by Tracey Bilsky

Vanier, F.H. travel to Don Hather tourney

The boys' and girls' basketball teams from Vanier Catholic and F.H. Collins Secondary Schools packed their bags and hit the road to Skagway to play in last weekend’s Don Hather Basketball Tournament.

By John Tonin on January 9, 2020

The boys' and girls' basketball teams from Vanier Catholic and F.H. Collins Secondary Schools packed their bags and hit the road to Skagway to play in last weekend’s Don Hather Basketball Tournament.

Unlike previous years, there were no gold medal games played in the 2020 rendition of the tournament. Instead, the Whitehorse high schools got to play in three exhibition games against their American counterparts.

The Vanier boys went undefeated in their three games, dropping Skagway, Hoonah and Thunder Mountain.

Coach Sean McCarron said the team was able to get off to quick starts and to get out for fast-break opportunities.

"We were in control of all three of the games," said McCarron. "We did well in bringing the intensity in the first quarters. We were able to push the pace, have a trapping defence and get out and running for layups."

McCarron said the games were a good learning experience for the players. He noted that the American teams played a 2-3 zone, which the Vanier team isn't familiar with breaking.

"They have no experience against that zone," said McCarron. "It was frustrating for them but you know today we are going to work on zone in practice."

The Crusaders also used the games as a chance to try new systems and go deep into their bench for when they are back on the court against the Whitehorse teams.

"We experimented with different types of defences and put guys in different situations," said McCarron. "Every game our bench played over half the minutes. The whole team got lots of experience.

"They need to make mistakes but play through them and know they will still get minutes."

McCarron said it was important for the team to focus on defence because offence won't always be there but you can still win on the strength of your defence.

The one team McCarron said he hoped they would have played was Haines, which was the strongest team at the Jamie Shaw Memorial Tournament in December.

"It would have been nice to play Haines," said McCarron. "I was hoping with more practice and games, we could have challenged them; they are smart and intense."

McCarron said the girls' team dropped their first game to Skagway but beat Haines on a buzzer-beater layup. He also said the girls showed a solid 2-3 zone on defence.

Andrew Jansen, who sat on the benches for both F.H. Warriors teams, said the tournament for the boys was a good opportunity for them to grow.

"They all got equal time and everyone was given different looks than what they are used to," said Jansen. "The boys are starting to develop."

Jansen said it was important for the players to compete against new faces.

"The kids don't know the other players to they have to react and it boosts their game IQ," said Jansen.

The F.H. boys, who went undefeated in Skagway, will be travelling to two Outside tournaments in the near future and Jansen said the three exhibition games in Skagway were a good way to work on systems.

"It was nice to work on systems and defensive sets," said Jansen. "We tried out different offensive and defensive plays. It was to experiment and implement what we had been working on in practice."

Jansen said the F.H. girls dominated their three games, going undefeated, but that's not to say they didn't have their learning experiences there as well.

"It was nice for them to play different competition," said Jansen.

The style of play from the Alaskans is a style Jansen said the girls weren't accustomed to dealing with.

"Alaska plays a different style with lots of ball screens," said Jansen. "The girls weren't used to it, but they got used to it and figured it out."

Jansen said overall it was a positive weekend for the two F.H. teams.

The coaches spoke to the atmosphere in the gym.

"The crowds are good and the town comes out and the energy in the gym is high," said McCarron. "It's a pretty fun tournament."

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