BOW VALLEY – The Bears and Wolverines had bite, but basketball season ended for Bow Valley high schools following zone tournaments throughout the province last weekend.
In the 2A zones, Banff Community High School Bears JV boys finished third, and the girls fourth.
In 3A, Canmore Collegiate High School's Grade 9 boys and JV boys finished fourth in their zones.
The Wolverines senior boys finished third, losing in a heartbreaking winner-goes-to-provincials game against the No. 1 ranked team in the South Central Zones, the Strathmore Spartans, on Saturday (March 11) in Strathmore.
Star Canmore basketball twin brothers Ethan Fisher had a game-high 27 points and Jaxon Fisher had 20 as the Wolverines lost 89-65.
"The team gave it 100 per cent and put it all on the court and we'll live with the result we get from that," said Chris Langlois, Wolverines assistant coach. "I think everyone, as much as we didn't hit the end goal that we wanted, we're very satisfied with how we did and we felt we over performed based off the cards we were dealt based off match-ups in zones."
The Wolverines made a habit of beating teams ranked above them at zones, but they hit a brick wall against the hometown Spartans, and one quarter made all the difference in the high-stakes winner-goes-to-provincials game.
After a 17-16 first in favour of Strathmore, the following 10 minutes were an absolute back-breaker for feisty Wolverines.
The plan was for the Fishers to play most, if not, every single second of the 40-minute game. However, Ethan was pulled in the second with a minor injury, and then once back in the game, foul-trouble forced the Grade 12 forward to sit for most of the quarter.
This was a spear in the belly of the Wolverines as the Spartans licked their lips and capitalized with a 31-11 quarter, going up 28 points at Canmore's lowest point. The Spartans held a commanding 48-27 lead going into the second half.
In the third quarter, and nearly left for dead, Ethan and Jaxon came out firing at will. The Fishers cashed in all the Wolverines second half points except for two, including seven three-pointers in front of some trash-talking Spartans fans courtside. The Wolverines comeback charge nearly cut the lead to single digits.
However, the first half lead the provincial-bound team had built proved to be too large of a mountain to climb.
“At one point we were down by 11 points ... if we got two stops and two baskets it would have been a completely different game. Instead, they got two stops and two baskets and that put us a little too far behind," said Wolverines head coach Mike Langlois.
"At the very end, our motto was: we're going to win or we're going to lose, but we're going to do it together ... We certainly overachieved, we beat teams that were ahead of us ranked in zones, so you gotta like that."
The Wolverines knocked off rivals the Cochrane Cobras twice, and the George McDougall Mustangs in the tournament.
JV BOYS FOURTH AT HOME
Gabriel Bongbong scored a game-high 18 points, but it wasn’t enough to lead the Canmore Wolverines JV boys basketball past the Brooks Buffaloes in the bronze medal game in Canmore last Saturday.
Losing 89-63, the final game of the season was a tale of two halves.
“At the beginning, we had a lot of motivation and we started strong and we kind of fell apart when we didn’t run our plans our way,” said Wolverines shooting guard Jackson Summerhays.
Bongbong drained three triples in a row to give the Wolverines 41-40 lead at halftime, but that was Canmore's final lead of the game.
The Brooks defenders threw a full-court press at Canmore all game, leading to numerous turnovers and frustration.
A three-and-a-half minute scoring drought plagued Canmore to start off the third quarter, which was broken when Wolverine Matthew Kragt got up and denied a Brooks shooter in the paint leading to a fast-break bucket for Bongbong.
At that point, luck had been on the Wolverines side because the Buffalos were putting up bricks, too, and only scored four points. However, that did not last long and the wheels quickly fell off in Canmore.
The Buffalos exploded for the remainder of the third quarter and outscored the Wolverines 27-10. How the quarter went for Canmore was summed up when the team threw the ball away on an inbound play with no Buffalos defenders in sight.
“We had motivation and we almost got too cocky in the third, thinking that we caught up with them, and we kind of just got our ass handed to us, to be honest,” said Summerhays.
“We got humbled in the third quarter and lost our lead. And then, once they got motivation, it was kind of just over from there.”
Midway through the fourth quarter, as the lead grew, most starters had been pulled from the game and the season came to an end.
“That’s a good team on the other side," said Jordie Mark, a first-year coach with the team. "In the second half, I think we just kind of loss discipline there, but either way, I’m proud of these boys, they fought hard in our last game and that pretty much sums up our season."
In the Wolverines other zone games, Canmore defeated Bow Valley High School 65-62 and Bongbong had a game-high 21 points, lost to Strathmore 88-62, Jonah Mark had a team-high 14 points.