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Photo by John Tonin

COLLAPSING THE DEFENCE – Vanier Crusaders guard Josh Rumbaoa, 5, passes the ball out to teammate Chad Williams, 2, for an open three during the first half of the Senior Basketball Championships at Vanier on Thursday.

Warriors, Crusaders win b-ball titles

The excitement over the Senior Basketball Championships almost blew the roof off of the Vanier gym on Thursday.

By John Tonin on March 8, 2019

The excitement over the Senior Basketball Championships almost blew the roof off of the Vanier gym on Thursday.

The crowd was electric for both games and if you were there your ears are probably still ringing like my own.

It was a rematch of the girls’ Superhoops final to kick off the evening as it was the Vanier Crusaders and F.H. Collins Warriors once again battling it out with a title on the line.

The Warriors got out to the early lead after the first quarter and in the second frame, they grew their advantage more. F.H. was able to control the pace of the game. They got any look they wanted hitting from behind the arc and under the basket.

The Warriors were looking to avenge their only loss of the season against Vanier in the Superhoops final. Coach Claire Abbott said it was about mental preparation heading into the championship game.

“It was all in the mental preparation, what happens before the game,” said Abbott. “So the visualization piece and choosing the one thing to really put their mind to, to get them ready and amped up because that intensity needs to get to that next level.”

Vanier showed flashes throughout the game and went on runs of their own but they could never get the lead back.

The Warriors, as was the case all season, had a relenting full-court press and forced the Crusaders into turnovers which lead to easy fast-break points.

Abbott said she was happy with her team’s intensity level in the game.

“I loved how they started the game and how they finished each quarter,” said Abbott.

“It is kind of like a chapter. They closed it really well. There may have been things in the middle they could have improved but they showed in the next quarter that they cleaned it up. It was beautiful.”

The Warriors continued to build their lead in the second half, led on offence by tournament MVP Sheridan Curteanu.

The Crusaders put up a fight and the game was much closer than the final 74-57 score would indicate.

Vanier make it eight straight

The boys’ game between the Porter Creek Rams and Crusaders came down to the wire. With 0.3 seconds remaining in the fourth Rams guard Parker Hobbis stepped to the line with his team trailing by two, 87-85.

The gym was deafening. The Vanier fans were cheering and stomping, doing anything to distract Hobbis while he shot.

He calmly swished the first shot, briefly quieting the crowd. The lead cut to one.

As he stepped back to the line the noise level once again rose. He shot, the ball hit the back rim and caromed out. The rebound was secured by Vanier and in so they also secured their eighth straight basketball championship.

Crusaders coach Sean McCarron said there was pressure in the final game, not because of the winning streak, but because they had worked so hard throughout the season.

“The focus was just to play really well all season and we did,” said McCarron as he fought through tears. “When the battles get so heated ... and I work them really hard, I’m tough on them. You want them to win, you want the Grade 12’s to walk away. There is pressure just because you feel for the boys and you want them to be rewarded.”

It was not an easy game for the Crusaders. The Rams gave them everything they could, outplaying them in the first half. The Rams were the more aggressive team in the first half getting to their spots on offence and dismantling the Crusaders on the glass.

Vanier made a late run at the end of the first half but was still lucky to be down by only seven 46-39. McCarron said he just wanted his team to stay alive until they could get their shots and play their game.

“Every team this year had their own personality,” said McCarron. “Ours is small, quick, hopefully, hit some shots and hope teams don’t go big. Porter Creek’s is size and strength and they went to that.

“(I knew) eventually we would get our legs and get our shots but at that point, you are just trying to stay alive until we can get our shots and in the third quarter we started hitting shots.”

Out of the gate in the third quarter, the Vanier offence, led by tournament MVP Josh Rumbaoa, made it a point to drive to the basket. The constant attack on the basket opened up passing lanes and the Crusaders were able to hit their three-point attempts - Andrew Smyth had five makes off the bench.

It was tied at 68 going into the deciding frame. With a little under four minutes left the Crusaders led by six, but the Rams kept pushing until they were only down two with 0.3 seconds remaining and a chance to tie it from the foul line.

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