By Greg Price
The St. Mary Celtics varsity boys basketball team’s tournament run at Black Diamond featured some black-and-blue play which resulted in a consolation championship.
The Celtics were in tough in its opening game in a tough draw against West Island College (Calgary).
“It was probably our worst outing of the tournament, even though they were a tough team. We just couldn’t get five guys out there who could work together,” said Ken Gabruck, head coach of the Celtics, in its opening-round 96-61 loss. “We didn’t execute offensively, and defensively, they took over the boards on us. They had the ball all the time.”
Carter Hendricks had 20 points in the loss and Tyrell Martens poured in 16. Jonathan Vanderbeek chipped in 15 points.
The Celtics rebounded big time in its following game against a struggling Crossfield squad, trouncing the opposition 102-27.
“Everyone got in and everyone scored and played a lot. They have a struggling program where in the past they have been competitive, but it’s just a young group of kids with no experience at all,” said Gabruck. “We picked up our defence a little bit and we wanted to play as tough of a defence as we could after playing so poorly defensively the night before. Holding them to 27 points, it didn’t matter which group we had out there, defensively, we played well.”
Hendricks led the Celtics with 36 points and Seth Muller had 15 points. Vanderbeek added 12 points.
Outsized by the opposition in the consolation final, the Celtics proved their mettle in a tight 61-57 victory over Foundations for the Future Charter Academy, a private school out of Calgary.
“We got some key defensive rebounds late in the game and came down and scored on them. Carter made two key foul shots with 17 seconds left to put us ahead,” said Gabruck.
Hendricks had 26 points in the win and Muller had a double-double of 16 points and 15 rebounds.
“Peter Klassen played really well defensively. He was mismatched defensively having to play a big kid and he came up with 10 rebounds,” said Gabruck. “We were outsized that game overall, both height and weight. They had some big boys. We worked hard at it and at times we struggled where they backed us in and scored at will. There were guys we were covering that were a couple of inches taller and 50 pounds heavier, it was a battle for everybody. Our last game was one of our better games of the year both offensively and defensively.”
Earlier this month, it was cruise control for the Celtics in River Ridge Basketball League play, beating Senator Gershaw Gators from Bow Island 92-63.
Up 51-26 at half-time, followed by outscoring its opposition 30-11 in the third quarter, the Celtics were able to coast to victory.
“Everyone got in and everyone got on the scoreboard which was good,” said Gabruck.
The Celtics were able to execute its defensive plan by taking Senator Gershaw’s best player out of its offensive game plan, forcing other players to make plays.
“They had one taller individual who was a pretty good shooter. We keyed on him and kept the ball away from him. It took them out of their offence,” said Gabruck.
Hendricks led the Celtics’ attack with 23 points.
The win likely cements a second-place finish for the Celtics in River Ridge competition, behind the Vauxhall Vikings. The two had another matchup in Vauxhall this past Monday, but are unlikely to catch the front-runners who have already beat the Celtics once earlier in the season.
“Looking at them, they are consistently having strong outings every game. It will be a battle to compete with them,” said Gabruck.
Also tough for the Celtics is Carl Rodrigo going back to the Philippines for a few weeks and will be out of the Celtics lineup.
“That is losing a significant player. He is our ball handler, he runs the offence. That will be shared by a couple of other players. It’s not that they can’t handle it, it’s just they are not as experienced as Carl,” said Gabruck. “Everyone will have to pick up the slack for Carl being gone.”
The Celtics travel to Milk River on Feb. 13 and then have a tournament in Coaldale the Feb. 15-16 weekend. Rodrigo will still be gone and Hendricks will be away doing a humanitarian house-building effort in Mexico.