SunDogs playing close PAC games
The Great Plains College SunDogs men’s basketball team placed third at a four-team Prairie Athletic Conference tournament in Swift Current over the weekend. The tournament was a round-robin event and was held at Irwin Gym. Palliser College SIAST (Moose Jaw), Kelsey SIAST (Saskatoon) and Bethany College (Hepburn) participated.
In the SunDogs first game Palliser broke up a tight game in the fourth quarter with some strong outside shooting to defeat the Sundogs 83-64. Ian Hayes led the Sundogs with 22 points and eight rebounds. Marshall Siemens had 15 points and four assists. Ben Degala had 13 points and Reese McKenna added eight points.
In their second game the SunDogs played an excellent all-round defensive game nullifying Bethany’s top scorer Phil Braun, who previously played at Herbert. The Sundogs led for various parts of the game, but the game remained tight throughout. Unfortunately the SunDogs struggled with their shooting in the fourth quarter but still were able to tie the score at 65 with just over a minute left in the game. Despite a few good looks in the last minute, the Sundogs lost 7065. Hayes once again led with a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. McKenna played a strong poised game on both ends of the court and had a season high of 15 points and three assists. Jon Neustaeter and Marshall Siemens played well defensively and chipped in with 11 and nine points respectively. Marty Funk had eight points and a team high 12 rebounds. Bethany went 3-0 over the weekend and won their second straight PAC tournament with their only PAC loss was at the hands of the Sundogs in the previous PAC tournament. Unfortunately the Sundogs could not pull it off two tournaments in a row.
In their third game the Sundogs faced off with Kelsey out of Saskatoon. Kelsey led by as many as nine points in the first half, but the Sundogs played a strong, tough second half and led 69-62 with two minutes left. But Kelsey hit back-to-back threes to be down one point 69-68. Tied at 71-71, Marshall Siemens made one of two freethrows with one second left to defeat Kelsey 72-71 in an exciting finish. Degala came off the bench to score a season high 17 points and Ian Hayes added 15 points and eight rebounds to cap another strong tournament.
“Yeah Kelsey is a good team,” said head coach Mark Benesh after the win. “We were struggling a bit with not being aggressive. We talked in the second half about needing to man-up and play tougher and be aggressive with the ball. We made some shots and then Marshall made a big free throw at the end. We really won that game early in the fourth quarter by making some plays and playing good defense.”
Benesh said it was a good weekend at home.
“We are improving and getting better. All three games, we were in every game, but the difference was shooting. In the first two games we could have won both but we didn’t make shots and the other team did at the end. It was 65-65 in the second game and they made the last two shots, we didn’t make anything.
“I was happy. We are getting better, we move the ball better, we help each other out and we play good defensively. We just need to shoot better.”
The SunDogs have had a massive roster overhaul since last season.
“We are doing well and getting better. Guys are figuring each other out and how to play together. We are moving the ball better and defensively we have been pretty good for most of the year. Guys have their roles now, so I think we are just getting better overall.”
Benesh is in his first season with the SunDogs after leading a powerhouse Shaunavon High School basketball program for 24 years.
“It has been good. It is not much different. It is nice having some kids who kind of know the game and are smart instinctually basketball-wise. The kids are great. They work hard, they do what I ask them to do. If anything, if they believed in themselves a little more, a little more confidence, they’d see the difference on the floor.”
The Sundogs next action is in the Battle of the Southwest on March 7 at Millar College in Pambrum. The final PAC provincial tournament takes place on March 21-22 in Pambrum.
SunDogs’ guard Marshall Siemens earned a trip to the charity strip after this drive to the hoop in a 7271 win over the Kelsey Amaruks Saturday.