Happy to be tested

Matthew Gourlie
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Peacock wins a pair of close games to win Invitational title

The Peacock Toilers were pushed twice Saturday, but they couldn’t be toppled.

Peacock's Braedon Crone goes up to hit an off-balance shot while being fouled by Arliss McCloy from Prince Albert St. Mary.

The Toilers overcame a pair of tough tests to win the 53rd annual Moose Jaw Senior Boys Invitational Basketball tournament.

Peacock beat Prince Albert St. Mary 84-77 in the final, while Weyburn beat Central 90-83 in double-overtime.

“We found a way. We gutted some things out. We executed when we had to and we came up with some big buckets and we got some stops,” said Peacock coach Bryan Adams. “The tournament had some really good competition and there were some great games down here. We can’t ask for much more. I’m really pleased with the boys.”

Winning the tournament for the first time since 2010 was a nice coup for the Toilers, but getting some close games will be invaluable moving forward.

“It’s still early in the year. All of these teams will be growing and there will be changes. These games get you to that spot where you know what you have to work on,” said Adams.

St. Mary beat Central 83-55 in one semifinal, while Peacock beat Weyburn 79-76 in the other semi.

Peacock lost early in the season in Saskatoon in their poorest effort of the season, but hadn’t played in many close games so far.

“We’ve really only had one tight game so far this year. It’s a lot more fun when the games are close,” said Peacock senior guard Ryder Epoch. “We take a lot away from this in terms of late game situations. You learn what to do with the ball and time management. It helps you make smart choices in the end.”

Peacock 84 St. Mary 77

The final was a game full of momentum swings.

Peacock came out flying and grabbed a 13-point lead late in the first quarter, but St. Mary went on a 12-2 run in the second quarter and tied the game before half.

“When we work as a team it just starts to click. When we’re working as a unit, we’re a tough team to beat,” said Epoch who led the Toilers with 30 points. “If one person gets on D and starts hustling it can be contagious — hard work is contagious. When we get in slumps, everyone has to start working and it turns around.”

Dale Regel’s St. Mary teams have been built on hard work and they were able to build a six-point lead in the third quarter before Peacock’s outside shooting and defence allowed them retake the lead by the middle of the fourth quarter.

Peacock’s depth played a big part in their win.

“Our depth showed and we’re a gritty bunch. We had different guys step up in each game,” said Adams. “We compete hard and keep competing — even when we aren’t getting the results we want. That’s a credit to the them.”

Braeden Crone scored two big late baskets to keep the Toilers comfortably ahead. He finished with 11 points and Eric Forbes added 15 for Peacock.

Connor Murray scored 27 for St. Mary, while Brandon Bonneau added 17 points.

In the semifinal, Weyburn had a three-point attempt to try to tie, but weren’t able to force overtime.

Peacock had an early 10-point lead, but the teams were tied at the half and it was close throughout.

Epoch and Crone each finished with 17 points, while Forbes added 15 and Jacob Laxdal had 14 for the Toilers.

Rhett Williams led Weyburn with 18 points.

Weyburn 90 Central 83 (2OT)

Central had a chance to win in regulation and looked to have Weyburn dead to rights in the first overtime but couldn’t put them away in the third-place game.

Central led 77-73 with 7.7 seconds left in the first overtime, but Ben Rumpel made two free throws, Cayden Postnikoff stole the inbound pass and as he fell out of bounds, passed to Rumpel who was able to tie the game with a lay-up as the buzzer went.

Central hadn’t been in a close game all year and Cyclones coach Leigh Pethick felt they didn’t handle the situation well.

“We had an open jumper at the end of regulation. We allowed them to take a three-pointer to tie the game in the first place. Then we threw the ball away with the lead and they scored at the end of the first overtime,” said Pethick. “It’s mental mistakes. Hopefully we can fix that aspect of the game.”

Rumpel hit back-to-back three pointers to start the second overtime for Weyburn as they dominated the second five-minute extra period against a deflated Cyclones team.

“Our guys haven’t been there,” said Pethick. “We’ve either been blown out or we’ve been blowing guys out. We haven’t been in a close game yet this year. It’s better now than in a playoff situation. It stings now, but we’ll learn from it.”

While blowing a late lead is frustrating, Pethick was overall very happy with how his team played against an excellent Weyburn team that put a big scare into Peacock.

“We had chances to win it in regulation and overtime. They made great plays to tie it. Overall it would be nice to win, but I’m happy the effort,” he said. “That was a great game to play.”

Dax Whitehead led the Cyclones with 23 points. Caleb Havanka and Parker Chow each added 11 points.

Rumpel scored a dozen of his 29 points in the overtimes. Rhett Williams added 18 for Weyburn.

In the semifinal, St. Mary took a 23-9 lead and Central couldn’t close the gap despite playing better after their slow start.

Whitehead and Daniel Holzer led the Cyclones with nine points each.

Austin Oleksyn led St. Mary with 19 points, while Bonneau added 16.

Central will get a chance to see how their players apply the lessons they learned Saturday when they face Peacock Tuesday in another difficult game.

Geographic location: Saskatoon

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