(Edmonton, Alta.) Teams from Saskatchewan and Quebec emerged as early tournament favourites, recording two victories apiece and securing top spots in their respective pools, on the first day of competition at the 2014 Junior National Wheelchair Basketball Championship in Edmonton, Alta. 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.
Game 1: Saskatchewan 87 – Ontario 49
Nik Goncin, who is also a member of the Sr. Men’s National Team, turned some heads when he scored 27 points in the first seventeen minutes of action as Team Saskatchewan got the tournament underway against Team Ontario. Goncin would go on to lead his team to a 87-49 victory scoring an impressive 39 points and 9 rebounds. Jared Sajtos was Saskatchewan’s next highest producer with 11 points. Ontario’s Kevin Wakeling led the red and white with 20 points, while Aaron McDonald pitched in with 10 points.
Game 2: Quebec 71 – Alberta 53
Team Quebec, who is the three-time defending Canada Games gold medalist, took advantage of a more balanced scoring attack with three different athletes reaching double-digit scoring in their tournament opener against Alberta. Benjamin Palmer came off the bench to score a team-high 14 points for Quebec, while starters Alexandre Courcelles and Rosalie Lalonde scored 13 and 10 points respectively. Alberta also spread out their offense with Braden Doll scoring a game-high 20 points, and Ben Moronchuk and Allie Haak putting up 12 points and 10 points.
Game 3 – Saskatchewan 66 – New Brunswick 54
Goncin would maintain his torrid scoring pace when Saskatchewan overtook New Brunswick 66-54 to claim their second victory of the day to lock up top spot in pool B. He scored 31 points and 10 rebounds for the tournament’s first double-double. New Brunswick countered with 33 points from Jacob Fudge and 11 from Sean Wilson, but as a team struggled with accuracy from the field cash in on only 21-for-61 field goals attempts.
Game 4 – Quebec 76 – BC 46
Team Quebec became the day’s second undefeated team and the top team in Pool A when Benjamin Palmer and Jade St. Pierre led them to victory scoring 17 points and 14 points. Nicolas Palmer chipped in with 11 points in the win for Quebec, while Alexandre Courcelles finished with 10 points. Jack Kosterman and Avril Harris each scored 16 points for B.C.
Game 5 – Ontario 63 – New Brunswick 33
Team Ontario evened up their record at one win and one loss on the day by defeating New Brunswick 65-32. Kevin Wakeling with 14 points and Eric Voss, who was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field, with 10 points, led them offensively. New Brunswick countered with Jacob Fudge and Sean Wilson who had 12 points each.
Game 6 Team Alberta 69- Team BC 54
Mr. David Dorward (MLA Edmonton-Gold Bar) was on hand to say a few words and help officially kickoff the 2014 Junior National Championships during a short opening ceremonies that preceded the day’s feature game. Alberta established a healthy lead early that they maintained for most of the game. BC mounted a comeback in the fourth quarter and got the score within four points before foul trouble caused the game to slip out of reach.
Day 2 Preview:
With perfect 2-0 records Saskatchewan and Quebec both earn berths into their respective semi-finals at 1:00 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. MST.
Alberta squares off against New Brunswick at 9:00 a.m. MST with the winner advancing into the semi-final versus Saskatchewan.
Ontario and BC will battle at 10:45 a.m. MST to decide who will meet Quebec in the second semi-final.
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.