(Edmonton, Alta.) The most dominant offensive junior player in the country will lead the attack for Saskatchewan when they clash with the tournament’s stingiest defense and perennial wheelchair basketball powerhouse from Quebec in the gold medal final of the 2014 Junior National Championship Sunday at 11:00 a.m. MST. Quebec is the reigning national champion and looks to once again prove they are top dog heading into the 2015 Canada Games.
Team Alberta will have the hometown crowd on their side when they face BC in the bronze medal game Sunday at 9:00 a.m. MST.
The top junior wheelchair basketball players in the country are at the Saville Community Centre this weekend (March 28-30) to determine a national champion as well as seeding for the 2015 Canada Games. The tournament is co-hosted by Wheelchair Basketball Canada and the Alberta Northern Lights Wheelchair Basketball Society and features the next generation of up and coming stars, with and without disabilities, showcasing why wheelchair basketball is amongst the most popular and inclusive sports featured at the Canada Games; a gateway for future Olympians and Paralympians.
The gold medal final promises to be a visual feast for spectators who will be treated to a climax battle three years in the making as athletes and teams get ready to enter the final phase of their four-year Canada Games cycle. Both Saskatchewan and Quebec cruise into the championship game with flawless 3-0 records having seamlessly dispelled their opponents in their semifinal matches.
Nik Goncin has been a juggernaut that has looked practically unstoppable averaging a tournament leading 41 points per game for Saskatchewan who will look for more from their gifted offensive dynamo. On the flipside, Quebec will look to continue leveraging the well-rounded team play that has seen them tally the most overall points for while giving up fewest points against in the tournament.
Game 7: Alberta 64 – New Brunswick 37
Alberta fought their way into a semifinal date with Saskatchewan by dominating their quarterfinal match against New Brunswick 64-37 that saw players from both teams put up double-doubles. Braden Doll had 22 points and a game-high 16 rebounds for Alberta. However, it was New Brunswick’s Sean Wilson who paced the floor with a game-high 29 points, and 12 rebounds to go along with 8 steals before fouling out. Alberta’s Ben Moronchuk notched 16 points, and Arinn Young with 11 points also helped Alberta on the scoresheet in the opening game of the second day of competition. Alberta benefitted from terrific ball handling and distribution as the team racked up 17 assists in the victory.
Game 8: British Columbia 58 – Ontario 43
The second quarterfinal matchup of the day pitted British Columbia against Ontario in an intense affair that saw BC edge their opponents 58-43. They were propelled by Jack Kosterman who almost single handedly took over the game accumulating a double-double with 37 points and 14 rebounds in 40 minutes of court time. Teammate Avril Harris pitched in with eight points and 14 rebounds of his own. Ontario was led by solid performances from Corin Metzger and Jesse Packard who tallied nine and eight points respectively, but the team was unable to recover when their scoring touch seemed to go cold in the second half.
Game 9 – Saskatchewan 70 – Alberta 57
Saskatchewan claimed their spot in the gold medal final by surpassing Alberta 70-57 in the day’s first semifinal. Nik Goncin shot the lights out to finish the game with a monstrous 51 points for Saskatchewan. He also added five steals for good measure. Alberta got a big game out of Braden Doll who secured a double-double with 27 points and 10 rebounds, while Ben Moronchuck tallied nine.
Game 10 – Quebec 70 – BC 28
Quebec and BC’s second encounter of the tournament ended much in the same way as their first with Quebec coming out on top. Benjamin Palmer paced the floor with an impressive 24 points, while Nicolas Palmer had 11 points and a game-high 11 points. Rosalie Lalonde contributed eight points for Quebec as well, however it was team defense that was the name of the game for the winning team. They limited their opponent to just 19.4 % shooting from the field and a tournament low 28 points. Jack Kosterman and Ben Hamilton were the top point producers for BC with eight and seven points respectively.
Game 11 – Ontario 62 – New Brunswick 59
New Brunswick and Ontario’s final game of the day was a barnburner that came right down to the wire. Ontario would prevail 62-59 to lock down 5th place with an overall record of two wins and two losses. New Brunswick finishes 6th with a record of zero wins and four losses.
Final Day Preview:
The bronze medal final will be between Alberta and BC who have identical records of two wins and two losses each – starting at 9:00 a.m. MST.
The gold medal final features Saskatchewan and Quebec – the tournament’s two undefeated teams, with three wins each, starting at 11:00 a.m. MST.
All games are being webcast live through www.sportscanada.tv.
About Team Alberta
Team Alberta won gold the first time wheelchair basketball was featured at the Canada Games in 1995. Most recently they were the youngest team to compete at the 2011 Canada Games were they finished eighth. Former program athletes including Chad Jassman and Tara Feser, as well as Ross Norton and Karla Tritten (now assistant coaches with Team Alberta) have gone on to win Paralympic and World Championship gold medals with the Senior National Teams.
About the Alberta Northern Lights Wheelchair Basketball Society
(ANL) is a registered charity that provides wheelchair basketball programming and HiLights school programs to Northern and Central Alberta. Founded in 1976, the Alberta Northern Lights have been world leaders in the development of wheelchair basketball and its athletes – both at the recreational and elite levels.
About Wheelchair Basketball Canada
Wheelchair Basketball Canada is the national sports governing body responsible for the organization of wheelchair basketball in Canada. It is a non-profit, charitable organization that is the Canadian member to the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF).
Wheelchair basketball is a fast-paced, hard-hitting, competitive sport that has emerged as one of the most competitive and athletic sports played at the Paralympic Games. Our senior national teams are held in high esteem around the world for the elite skill and control that placed them on the podium with a combined six gold, one silver, and one bronze medal in the last six Paralympic Games.