© Times-Herald photo by Nathan Liewicki
Central Cyclones basketball captains (left to right) Dax Whitehead, Aidan Saladana, Daniel Holzer, Jacob Laboccetta and Dalton Wolfe pose with the Moose Jaw high school boys city championship. The Cyclones upset the Peacock Toilers 77-69 on Tuesday night to win the title.
Central boys claim fourth straight city hoops title
The Peacock Toilers had beaten the Central Cyclones in three previous meetings this season.
In Tuesday’s game, the Cyclones returned the favour thanks to second half scoring frenzy that propelled them to a 77-69 victory in the Moose Jaw high school senior boys basketball championship game at SIAST Palliser.
The win was Central’s fourth straight city championship in senior boys hoops.
Trailing 29-25 at halftime, the Cyclones couldn’t miss a shot in the opening minutes of the second half. They were making circus lay-ups and knocking down triples.
“I told them offensively we were standing around,” Central head coach Leigh Pethick on what he told his team at halftime. “We just needed to play together, set screens and create more movement like we did this past weekend. You can’t be afraid to shoot the shot if you’re open and they did. It’s pretty gratifying.”
Among the leading scorers for the Cyclones were seniors Aidan Saladana and Dax Whitehead, who poured in 17 and 15 points respectively. Caleb Havanka also chipped in with 14 points.
Whitehead, who has also a monster on the glass, was brimming with joy after the game.
“It feels good because it’s my last year and it felt good to beat the No. 1 seed,” said Whitehead.
Asked to explain the lights out shooting performance by his team in the second half, Whitehead said it was partially the result of the Cyclones creating open spaces on the floor to shoot.
“We started to get hot and they left us open,” said Whitehead.
“When we get hot, we don’t miss.”
Toilers head coach Bryan Adams, whose team had come into Tuesday’s city final without a loss in league play, credited Central’s hot, second half shooting.
“They had some kids that hit some threes that we didn’t think were going to shoot the three, but they did,” Adams said. “That’s credit to them and that opened up a little space for them. They did some things that we hadn’t seen from them all year and they did it tonight.”
Despite 19 points from forward Eric Forbes and 15 from senior Ryder Epoch, Adams noted his team struggled to find the net despite a number of quality looks at the basket.
That has to change when the two teams meet again on Friday in Regina for the 4A boys semifinal (6:15 p.m. at Johnson Collegiate)
“We have to shoot the ball a little better. That’s what we didn’t do tonight,” Adams said. “We had lots of good looks, but the ball didn’t go down.”
While Tuesday’s win is sure to give the Central players tremendous confidence heading into Friday’s rematch with Peacock, Pethick said his team is going to have to be even better if they are going to beat the Toilers again.
For as long as they can, Pethick and his team are going to enjoy the city championship win. After all, not many people gave the Cyclones a chance to win it.
“I think if you had to make somebody put money on (this game), who are you going to pick? You are going to pick Peacock,” he said.
“They just got us on a really good night.”
Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks