The 4A boys regional final at Central was a high-tempo, high-intensity battle for four quarters.
When the game was on the line, however, the more experienced Central Cyclones had a lot more left in the tank as they ran away from the Saskatoon Marion Graham Falcons to earn a 96-71 win.
The win means the Cyclones will advance to the Hoopla provincial high school basketball championships next weekend in Saskatoon.
“Marion Graham is a great team,” said Central coach Leigh Pethick. “We were lucky to be in the game after that first quarter I thought. We could have folded, but we didn’t. We came back and won the second quarter and kept it rolling from there. Our guys settled down and worked together.”
It was a frenzied opening that saw the Falcons take a 26-23 lead. The Cyclones rallied and led 49-40 at the half, but neither side was relenting.
“We had to match their intensity, but we did,” said Pethick. “It was a good test.”
The Cyclones led 70-64 early in the fourth quarter when the Falcons missed two attempts from beyond the three-point arch that would have cut the lead to three.
Instead Cyclones post Myles McDougall scored and was fouled to put the Cyclones up by eight. He missed the free throw, but Dax Whitehead grabbed the rebound fed Jon Phillips for another basket. The next time down the floor McDougall blocked a shot and scored at the other end. In a matter of seconds the Cyclones lead ballooned to a dozen and that kick-started a 15-0 Cyclones run that iced the game.
Whitehead led the Cyclones with 25 points, while McDougall and Zach Schutte each added 16 points. Bretton Konihowski added 11 for the Cyclones.
Addison Dewar scored 22 points for the Falcons, while Tim Campbell added 18 points. The back court duo of Dewar and Campbell combined for 40 points, but only managed a single point in the fourth quarter between them.
“Our game plan on their two shooters was to hassle them and I think that paid dividends in the third and fourth quarter,” said Pethick. “They had to be tired. Any time you have to run all game long and are bumping into guys, it’s going to affect your shooting.”
The Falcons only had one senior and Dewar is in Grade 9 and Campbell is in Grade 10.
Central will now face Regina O’Neill at Hoopla.
The top seed, Prince Albert St. Mary, will face Yorkton Regional.
St. Mary earned their trip to Hoopla by beating Peacock 92-69.
The Toilers only trailed by single digits when Patience Ishimwe hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to put St. Mary ahead 50-38 at the half.
Peacock shut out St. Mary for the first five minutes of the third quarter, but the top-seed from P.A. was too strong in the fourth quarter.
Braeden Crone scored 19 points and Sawyer Buettner added 12 for the Toilers. Ishimwe led St. Mary with 24 and Cody Sjogren added 16.
In 3A boys action, Regina Christian beat Caronport 108-65 to advance to Hoopla.
Zeph Moore led the Cougars with 34 points, while Brendan Adrian added 17 and Jonny Toews had 10 points. Zak Tamlin led Regina with 32 points.