The Vanier Crusaders hosted a basketball doubleheader last Friday at Vanier Catholic High School.
The first game saw the Vanier Junior Varsity team lose to Tim Brady’s Canada Games team 69-53. The game was tight for almost three quarters (13-13 at the end of the first and 29-28 Wolf Pack at the end of the half), but then the Canada Games team started to pull away . Vanier actually led 38-37 with 3:48 left in the third, but the Canada Games team took over, taking a 48-40 lead late in the third period and never looking back.
The Canada Games team’s top scorers were Kiiwaadin Swan with 23 points, John Musiime with 15 and Ben Bonilla with 12 points.
The Crusaders’ leading scorers were Ethan Wilks with 19 points and Isiah Cabiso with 14 points.
According to Crusaders coach Sean McCarron, it’s been a while since the Crusaders have seen game action.
“Over two years since we’ve seen Crusader jerseys on an official gym floor like this, playing games,” McCarron said.
“So nice to get the first one out of the way. I have a lot of boys who want to play, so we’re not too worried about a win or a loss at this stage. For some of these kids, they’ve never really played basketball before, or at least haven’t played since 7th or 8th grade, including some 12th graders. So a lot of nerfs there, a lot of turnovers, some guys still don’t know where they need to be on the floor, so the next three weeks, four weeks, wherever we are, it’ll be fun to see if we can get them learn a few things based on what we saw tonight. But super fun to watch them come out.
The Vanier Junior Varsity (JV) team is a mix of players.
“There are a lot of 11th graders there, so juniors, but we had 12th graders there, we also had a few 9th graders. So I split my team into our Varsity and our JV, but some guys will switch teams, depending on how many games we play, and that way everyone can get a few more minutes.
“And playing the Canada Games is kind of fun, because some of these guys are Vanier guys and some of these junior boys from FH (Collins), who I’m coaching right now. So I have the chance to see them in action. Some of these children have played very well. When you play against Kiiwaadin (Swan) – he’s one of the best young players in town, so it’s a handful. He’s a great player, he’s done a lot of good things.
Swan is a Canada Games team goaltender.
Overall, McCarron thought it was a good challenge for his young proteges.
“Isiah (Cabiso), our ninth year player, played really well. Ethan (Wilks) committed a foul in the third quarter. He is our most experienced player. So all things considered, the last six minutes got out of hand, score-wise, but we’ve only lost five minutes at that point and coach (Tim) Brady is doing a great job with this Games team of Canada – this training team – they play a good defense, they took care of the ball and they have very good players. So it was a really nice challenge for my JV team and I hope we get them next time, but we’ll see. Otherwise, we will learn.
Canada Games coach Tim Brady said it was the first game they had played in a long time as a team.
“He is. We have a practice squad…those boys are part of it. And then there are boys who are playing in this game (Vanier Varsity vs. Porter Creek) who are also in it. So we took our young boys in this training group and have been playing right now and then some of our older guys are playing here.
“We have practices and training sessions and play a little four-on-four, we call it five-on-five and we work our training like that, but the first half game we had was a bit like a game, was arbitrated.
Brady, however, said his group had recent playing experience.
“These guys play in the Philippine leagues all the time and in the Whitehorse men’s league, so they play games, but – this group was selected in mid-February, so this is our first game. In fact, we are going out in May to play in a tournament with 22 boys in our practice squad. We split them into two teams. We play a tournament in May, then one in July, maybe one in between. But we have to select our top 12. We still haven’t. We’re still working through that.
Brady’s group is forming a team for the Canada Games August 6-21 in Niagara Falls (and St. Catharines).
Brady offered an analysis of the game.
“It was a bit rusty. We had a system we wanted to work on, and we did. We were trying to get the team we were playing against to push the ball up with their left hand – we call it ‘lock-left’. We got some good work done on that. The back of this defense can improve, but that’s why we play, to see what we can do better and what we need to work on. So we’ll come back to that tomorrow in training and we’ll have some of the things from that game in mind to work on in our session.
“Other than that, it was good. I know all the players. They will all be – I run the Wolf Pack program for basketball and all of these boys, on both teams, have been in this Wolf Pack program at one time or another. It’s always good to see them and have them play, especially this year; seasons have been shortened and pretty much canceled.
“We eliminated some Wolf Pack teams in September to compete in the BC National Club Tournament. We took 48 boys there, so we had four teams,” he added.
” It went very well. And we took a team of girls. We also took a female team. So that was the last time I was on the pitch like that, apart from today.
“The next step is the Victoria Day tournament in Calgary, and then we have a regular four-day training session where we go during the week, work on different things, do different things on the court – certain skills, a system of things to work on. We kind of keep going,” Brady recounted.
“So we are in the second quarter of our formation. Our first trimester has just ended. The next four or five weeks are our second. And we’re kind of going to tweak some things. We’re hoping to get all of our guys out for that, because we have – like I said, if you watch this game, five or six of those guys are with us as well.
Game 2 saw the Vanier Varsity team edge out a Porter Creek team 118-71. Gage Sweeney had 36 points for Vanier. Angelo Coringal scored 24 points.
Porter Creek’s top scorers were Arlow Walker with 30 points, Navaya Webb with 13, and Fynn Ritchie, who scored 11, mostly with 3 points.