CAL­GARY TEAM WINS BRIT TI­TLE

Cal­gary team wins BRIT ti­tle

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - FRONT PAGE - DON RICE

HOOP­ING IT UP

The Bed­ford Road In­vi­ta­tional Tour­na­ment has been pro­vid­ing clas­sic mo­ments for bas­ket­ball fans since 1968. The 51st run­ning of the tour­na­ment this past week­end only added more.

This year’s BRIT fea­tured a dra­matic third-place show­down be­tween two Saska­toon ri­vals — a game that fea­tured an im­prob­a­ble last-minute come­back, and felt more like a cham­pi­onship game. Mo­ments later the bat­tle of Al­berta broke out in the tour­na­ment’s real cham­pi­onship game. In the end, it was a Saska­toon born-andraised head coach who was rais­ing the cham­pi­onship tro­phy.

Cal­gary’s Bishop Mc­nally Tim­ber­wolves emerged as tour­na­ment cham­pi­ons in their first-ever ap­pear­ance at BRIT, with a 66-57 vic­tory over pro­vin­cial ri­val Ed­mon­ton Harry Ain­lay Ti­tans. For Cal­gary head coach Ty­lor Korol, it was a vic­tory he had been pre­par­ing a life­time for.

“It’s pretty in­cred­i­ble,” noted Korol, who was also named coach of the tour­na­ment. “The al­lure of the BRIT, goes across West­ern Canada for sure. Hav­ing the op­por­tu­nity to bring these kids to it and to be suc­cess­ful, it’s pretty fan­tas­tic.

“I’m ac­tu­ally born in Saska­toon. I’ve got fam­ily here that have played in it, that’s come and watched it for years, so I know what the BRIT is all about and be­ing able to share this with my (team) is un­real.”

His grand­mother, a Bed­ford Road alumna, was on hand along with his mother to witness the cham­pi­onship.

Korol moved away from Saska­toon while still in el­e­men­tary school, but he was amazed that his name will be added to the same coach-of-the-tour­na­ment plaque that his own for­mer high school coach Mike Fuller­ton of Cal­gary Sir. Win­ston Churchill won at BRIT in 2013.

In the cham­pi­onship game, Bishop Mc­nally jumped out to a 20-9 lead over Harry Ain­lay in the first quar­ter, and main­tained a rea­son­ably com­fort­able lead through­out most of the game. Ed­mon­ton fought to close the gap to within four points late in the fourth, be­fore Cal­gary snuffed out the come­back dreams.

Two hours ear­lier a rau­cous crowd had packed the rafters for a third-place duel that saw two Saska­toon Nel­son Road ri­vals go toe to toe. In the end, the Cen­ten­nial Charg­ers cel­e­brated an 84-80 come­back over­time vic­tory over the St. Joseph Guardians.

The three-time de­fend­ing Saska­toon city cham­pion Guardians main­tained a lead for the ma­jor­ity of the game, in­clud­ing 42-33 at the half and 62-56 af­ter three. They ap­peared des­tined for vic­tory un­til the dy­ing stages of reg­u­la­tion.

Trail­ing by seven with un­der a minute to play, Cen­ten­nial scored eight of the next nine points to send a 76-76 game to over­time. At which point Cen­ten­nial cap­tain Nick John­son took the game into his own hands, scor­ing all eight over­time points for his team. He fin­ished with a game high 31.

“It was re­ally im­pres­sive,” said Cen­ten­nial Charger head coach Kory Dawe, “It was wow!”

“We just didn’t quit,” Dawe added. “It’s just funny how mo­men­tum can shift, and we cap­i­tal­ized. We made some free throws we needed to and we just played with lots of heart and de­ter­mi­na­tion.

“Nick John­son is our cap­tain. He’s a third-year vet­eran Grade 12 player. He’s a bas­ket­ball lifer in the com­mu­nity here and he saved his best for last.”

OVER­TIME: Bishop Mc­nally guard Ben Kamba was named tour­na­ment MVP ... Join­ing him on the all-star team were team­mate Bichail Peters, as well as Harry Ain­lay cham­pi­onship op­po­nents Ajou Ajou and Tyler Bur­bank. Cen­ten­nial’s Nick John­son also made the team along with Ma­son Durham of St. Joseph … The Holy Cross Cru­sader ju­nior boys were the 3 on 3 win­ners … The BRIT cheer com­pe­ti­tion was re­placed this year by a pom and cheer show­case that saw 23 en­tries.

PHO­TOS: KAYLE NEIS

The Bishop Mc­nally Tim­ber­wolves of Cal­gary topped the Harry Ain­lay Ti­tans from Ed­mon­ton in the BRIT cham­pi­onship game in Saska­toon Satur­day night.

Or­ga­niz­ers would not be able to put on any tour­na­ment if it weren’t for the work of ded­i­cated vol­un­teers.

The Bishop Mc­nally Tim­ber­wolves on the bench were pumped up watch­ing their team­mates put up points en route to claim­ing the BRIT cham­pi­onship ti­tle Satur­day.

The Harry Ain­lay Ti­tans had a group of pas­sion­ate fans make the trip from Ed­mon­ton to sup­port them to a sec­ond-place fin­ish in Saska­toon.

Bishop Mc­nally Tim­ber­wolves coach Tyler Korol works the ref­eree dur­ing the fi­nal game, per­haps telling the ref how things are done in Cal­gary.

KAYLE NEIS

Cal­gary’s Bishop Mc­nally Tim­ber­wolves guard James Trinidad, right, brushes past Ed­mon­ton Harry Ain­lay Ti­tans guard Tyler Bur­bank dur­ing the BRIT fi­nal in Saska­toon Satur­day. Mc­nally won 66-57.

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