(Montreal, Que.) The BC Royals came out on top on Friday at the 2017 Canadian Wheelchair Basketball League (CWBL) National Championship as they were the sole team to emerge undefeated from some heated round robin action in Montreal.
Seven of the country’s top competitive club teams are vying for a shot at the national title at the Centre sportif at the Université du Québec à Montréal.
The competition resumes Saturday as teams jostle for position and battle for a berth to the medal games. The bronze and gold medal games are set for 9 a.m. ET and 11 a.m. ET, respectively, on Sunday.
Game 1 – Gladiateurs de Laval 63 vs. Alberta Northern Lights 71
The Alberta Northern Lights began the tournament with a 71-63 win over the Gladiateurs de Laval in a tight opening game. With consistent shooting Alberta overtook the Laval lead in the second quarter and maintained their momentum throughout the rest of the game. Paralympian Ben Moronchuk led all players with 29 points and secured a double-double for Alberta with 13 rebounds, while Philippe Vermette countered with 20 points and 10 rebounds to earn the double-double for Laval.
Game 2 – CIVA de Montréal 65 vs. BC Royals 75
The BC Royals claimed their first win of the tournament with a 75-65 victory against CIVA de Montréal. The hometown team outpaced the Royals throughout the second and fourth quarters, but it wasn’t enough to compete against the Royals’ strong ability to convert off rebounds. Alphonsus To produced a team-best 23 points for BC and Benjamin Palmer registered 21 points for CIVA.
Game 3 – Variety Village Rolling Rebels 59 vs. Saskatchewan Club ’99 47
Variety Village carved out an early lead against Saskatchewan Club ’99, ending the first period up 10 points. The Saskatchewan team attempted to level the playing field, exchanging baskets with their opponent throughout the rest of the game, but ultimately were unable to nullify the Rebels’ strong start. Gregg Johnstone led the Saskatchewan offense with 20 points, while Jesse McNalley scored a game-high 24 points for Variety Village.
Game 4 – Gladiateurs de Laval 74 vs. Calgary Grizzlies 45
The Gladiateurs de Laval picked up a decisive 74-45 win against the Calgary Grizzlies for their first win of the weekend. Carl Pelletier was the top point producer for Laval with 24 points. Erik Vliegenthart led the way offensively for the Grizzlies with 11 points.
Game 5 – Variety Village Rolling Rebels 59 vs. CIVA de Montréal 54
In an intense match up, Variety Village defeated CIVA de Montréal 59-54 for their second win. Variety Village found themselves in a 31-27 deficit at halftime before turning the tide in the second half. They outscored CIVA by 11 points in the third period and managed to stave off CIVA’s valiant rebuttal in the fourth to maintain their lead. CIVA’s Nicolas Palmer led all the players with 25 points while Jesse Mcnalley countered with 17 points for Variety Village.
Game 6 – BC Royals 71 vs. Saskatchewan Club ’99 56
In their second game of the tournament, the BC Royals picked up a commanding 71-56 win against Saskatchewan Club ’99. After setting a strong pace in the first half, the Royals lost some momentum in the third quarter allowing Saskatchewan to outscore them 13-17. Saskatchewan didn’t get a chance to close the gap however as the Royals game back in the fourth to sink another 20 points against Saskatchewan’s 10. Deion Green and Kady Dandenault were the offensive catalysts for BC tallying 19 points each. While Mitch Bossaer led the Saskatchewan team with 18 points and Jared Sajtos chipped in with a double-double with 10 points and 16 rebounds.
Game 7 – Alberta Northern Lights 65 vs. Calgary Grizzlies 66
In the battle of Alberta, the Calgary Grizzlies and the Alberta Northern Lights fought tooth and nail for the win. The teams exchanged leads throughout, never allowing it to be more than a 6 point game. With less than a minute remaining on the clock the Northern Lights led by one, but the Grizzlies’ Erik Vligenhart cinched a two pointer that the Northern Lights weren’t able to match allowing the Grizzlies to secure the win. Vligenhart paced the Calgary attack with 16 points while Team Canada athlete Ben Moronchuk tallied a high of 21 points for Alberta.
“The Northern Lights are younger and faster than us so we just have to push hard on defence to try and keep up with their speed. Our teams get along really well but both teams want to win that one. I thought we played well against a really good, disciplined team,” said Grizzlies player and Paralympian Chad Jassman.
Game 8 – Saskatchewan Club ’99 61 vs. CIVA de Montréal 56
Saskatchewan Club ’99 captured its first win of the tournament by edging out CIVA de Montréal with a 61-56 win. While CIVA began the game with a strong show, leading 29-26 at half, Saskatchewan managed to turn things around by converting on their shots in the second half by scoring 23 points in the third quarter to take CIVA by storm. Saskatchewan player Jared Sajtos scored a game-high of 26 points and finished the day with a double-double with 12 rebounds. Benjamin Palmer of Montreal led the team’s offense with 20 points.
“I thought this was the best game we played together, we’ve been working on it from our first two games and I think we put together 40 minutes for the first time this tournament,” said Saskatchewan coach and player Katie Miyazaki. “I’m very happy with how we played and we’ve been working on team dynamics and how we can help each other be better and putting each other in good positions to be successful and I think we did that.”
Game 9 – BC Royals 77 vs. Variety Village 53
With their third win, 77-53 against Variety Village, the BC Royals end the first day of competition as the only undefeated team. The Royals started off the game with seemingly unstoppable momentum, scoring 43 points in the first half to Variety Village’s 19. While Variety Village made a concerted effort to change the tide by outscoring BC by seven points in the third, they were unable to close the gap. The BC offense was led by Kady Dandenault with 22 points, followed closely by Alphonsus To with 16 points. Jesse McNalley scored a game-high 24 points for Variety Village.
“Everyone was fresh and on top of their game. Everyone contributed to the game with good seals from the lower class players and nice shooting from the higher class players. Variety Village had a good team with a lot of big guys but our press was good, we were able to cause some turnovers and that really made the difference today,” said Alphonsus To of the BC Royals.
About the Canadian Wheelchair Basketball League
The Canadian Wheelchair Basketball League (CWBL) was founded in 1986 and has two primary divisions: the Open division and the Women’s division. The league features wheelchair basketball club teams from across Canada and culminates each season with a national championship for both the Open and Women’s divisions.
The league is fully integrated as both divisions welcome athletes with a disability as well as able-bodied athletes to play in the spirit of competition. It often features some of the country’s best wheelchair basketball players, including past, present and future members of Team Canada.
About Wheelchair Basketball Canada
Wheelchair Basketball Canada is the national sport governing body responsible for the organization of the sport in Canada. It is a non-profit, charitable organization that is committed to excellence in the development, support and promotion of wheelchair basketball programs and services for all Canadians from grassroots to high performance. Wheelchair basketball is a fast-paced, hard-hitting, competitive sport in which Canada is held in high esteem around the world for winning a combined six gold, one silver, and one bronze medal in the last seven Paralympic Games.