For the first time, Basketball NWT had teams playing in the Alberta Basketball Youth Provincials.
And it wasn’t a blowout by any stretch of the imagination.
The DT Electric Futures program was a U13 and U15 boys team entered in the C/D division of their respective age brackets and both teams finished in seventh place.
The U13 team started out their tournament against the LCBA Hospedales squad from Leduc, Alta., and ended up on the wrong end of the decision but coach Cole Marshall said nerves got the better of them right out of the gate.
“They were the better team but they came out and had a terrible first quarter,” he said.
They were down eight points at the end of the first, a sizable deficit to try and make up at that level, said Marshall.
“We got ourselves into foul trouble early and we were playing catch-up the rest of the game with our best players on the bench,” he said.
The team got back to the dressing room following the game and Marshall said the feeling among the squad was one that got away from them.
“They thought they could have won it and they should have won it but it was a good example of happens when you don’t prepare properly,” he said. “You have to be good out of the gate and they weren’t.”
The Airdrie Assassins were up next for the boys and it wasn’t the best of games for the boys as they lost by a big margin but Marshall said Airdrie was simply too good for them.
“They had a player who was over six feet tall, almost to my eyeballs,” he said. “They had great shooters and they just outplayed us. We were tired because we played earlier in the day but they were just too good for us.”
Their final game for seventh place was against SBA Conrad from Sherwood Park, Alta., which ended in a 41-28 victory.
Marshall said the boys were clicking in form by that point.
“SBA had a rough ride and they came out at us pretty hungry,” he said. “They were the same size as us so it was easier to match up, no big 13-year olds to worry about. The kids wanted a win to close it out and they got it.”
The U15 boys, meanwhile, started their tournament against Wetaskawin MacQuarrie and it was a tale of two halves, according to Marshall.
The boys were down by as many as 18 points at one point in the third quarter but came roaring back to tie the game at 45-45 with one minute remaining in regulation time.
Then foul trouble hit.
“Three of our guys ended up fouling out and I was forced to play with just four players,” said Marshall. “We tie the game and our third player gets his fifth foul and we’re down to four. It was tough because we had played probably the worst half ever and then the best half ever.”
Just like with the U13 squad, Marshall said the U15 squad felt like it was a game that got away.
“We knew they weren’t as good as we were but stupid fouls early in the game is what cost us,” he said. “We realized that and we knew we were better but discipline was our downfall.”
BYBA Li from Beaumont, Alta., was the next opponent for the boys and this time, the second half was what killed the boys, said Marshall, as they fell to defeat, 70-39.
“We just ran out of gas in the fourth quarter,” he said. “We kept it close in the first half but two of our guys fouled out and when you have a short bench, fatigue becomes a factor.
“They saw that the officiating down there isn’t what like they get up here at the Cager, where they get away with some calls. Down there, it’s a lot tighter.”
Wetaskawin Whitehead was the final opponent for the boys and they managed to pull out a tight 43-38 win for seventh place in a game which Marshall said was good for the boys to have to close things out.
“We knew what type of offence they were going to roll and so we clamped down in the key and closed them out,” he said. “It was good for the boys to win a tight one and good for them to say they won a game at a provincial championship.”
In terms of the overall performance, Marshall said the boys did a good job of showing that the building being done on the development side is coming along.
“It’s been a lot of work to try and get them to a better level,” he said. “Unfortunately, I can’t make my players taller but I can make them better shooters. We had blowout games but we also had close, competitive games and they got to experience all of that.”