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.

Photo by Steven Mah

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.

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