Ross Sheppard – Finishing second in the second tournament in a row was a positive result for the Paul Kane Blues.
The 60-57 loss to the Magrath Pandas in Saturday’s final at the 27th annual Totem Hoop Classic was a moral victory after Paul Kane went down to defeat by 77 points to the St. Albert Skyhawks the previous weekend at the 22nd annual Mike Dea Classic at St. Francis Xavier High School.
“This was a good way to bounce back from the last tournament and even though we got second we still played really good and improved overall as a team,” said Chelsea Marko, a tournament all-star for Paul Kane.
Visit StAlbertToday.ca for the team picture.
In the first quarter, Magrath made three baskets late in the 10-minute period to knot it at 16.
Eight unanswered points in the second quarter by Magrath left Paul Kane trailing by nine with under five minutes left in the half.
The first half ended with Magrath in charge at 33-25.
Paul Kane ramped it up after the break as Marko tied it at 41 on a nifty move under the basket with 1:30 to go until quarter time.
Marko scored eight of her 14 points in the third quarter.
Up by two points to start the last quarter, Magrath scored two baskets in the opening seconds to make it 47-41.
Back-to-back baskets by Raeesa Cherniwchan pulled Paul Kane back to within two. However, Magrath replied with 11 straight before the point run ended with a three-ball by Jules Froment with 2:52 to play. The boost in the momentum triggered a late-game rally as Paul Kane eventually closed the gap to 58-54 on Liz Salcedo’s three-pointer with 1:19 remaining.
After a driving layup by Magrath with one minute on the clock, Froment answered with a basket and with five seconds remaining Cherniwchan hit one of two free throws.
After a pair of misses by Magrath from the free-throw line with three seconds to go, Salcedo attempted a Hail Mary three-pointer that fell short of the hoop.
“It was really thrilling,” Marko said. “It was a close game. Both teams played really well.
“We both had very high intensity, but in the end some of our defensive rotation wasn’t there.”
As for the team’s strength in the final, “Our defensive energy was really good both halfs,” Marko said.
Cherniwchan was strong as usual with 17 points and Froment scored seven of her 10 points in the fourth quarter. Froment and Salcedo (eight points) also finished with two three-pointers apiece.
The tournament opener for Paul Kane at the home of the Ross Sheppard Thunderbirds started with the 57-42 outcome against the Spruce Grove Panthers and the semifinal was 69-48 against the All Saints Legends of Calgary.
Period scores against the Legends were 18-15, 33-26 and 55-36 for Paul Kane.
Cherniwchan pumped in 22 points, Marko contributed 10, Aislinn Libich potted nine and Froment added eight.
Paul Kane is 4-2 after two tournaments before hosting the Jasper Place Rebels in today’s metro Edmonton division one season opener and game time is 5:30 p.m.
“This will be really good for us to go into league play just having these two tournaments as experience under our belts, especially for our (five) Grade 10s. It got them some good time on the floor,” said Marko, 17.
The third-year senior team player (“I’m more of a forward than a guard”) is one of six returnees on the 12-player roster from the sixth-place team at the 2019 4A provincials. Paul Kane finished 20-11 overall while going 9-3 as a division one semifinalist.
Paul Kane is also without the valuable services of Grade 12 shooter Bella Gaulden because of a lower body injury suffered in game two of the Mike Dea Classic.
“A lot of teams will be good this year, but so are we,” Marko said.
Paul Kane men
After a disappointing failed attempt in the ability round to play in division one this season, the Paul Kane men are back in division two and the first league game for the 13-1 finalists (21-3 overall) last season was Monday’s 68-49 decision against the Bev Facey Falcons in St. Albert.
The teams Paul Kane was pooled together with in the ability round – St. Peter the Apostle Spartans of Spruce Grove, Leduc Tigers and Holy Trinity Trojans – qualified for division one.
Today at 5 p.m. Paul Kane hoops it up against the host Archbishop MacDonald Marauders.