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Woodstock Completes AA Sweep With Boys Win

Woodstock High Thunder fell behind 7-0, but didn’t flinch. In fact, the Thunder would come all the way back, built a comfortable lead, watched it fade away, but in the end, carried on to a stellar 76-68 win over arch-rival Carleton North High Stars of Florenceville-Bristol.

The AA boys’ final capped the New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association Final 12 at Saint John’s Harbour Station on Saturday. Six champions were crowned at the AAA, AA and A levels in boys’ and girls’ play over the outstanding two day event.

Mitch Webber drilled 22 points to power Woodstock which lost all five games it played against Carleton North this season.  Jacob Tompkins had 16, Lucas Tompkins scored 14 and Brennan Cook and Norm Burry each buried a dozen.

The Thunder led 38-30 at halftime, was up 59-47 after three and held on in a see-saw, back and forth tilt these two schools almost always provide.

Dustin Broad’s 23 sparked Carleton North. Abrhym Hill had 13 and Jordan Drier 12.

Thunder Hang On For Thrilling AA Girls Title Win

Two old rivals duked it out in an emotional winner-take-all heavyweight New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association Final 12 girls’ AA final.

It lived up to that billing. Woodstock High Thunder earned a dramatic 79-73 win over a gritty Carleton North High Stars crew from Florenceville-Bristol. This one wasn’t decided until late.

Woodstock led much of the game, but kept watching Carleton North’s Katie McAfee put on a Final 12 show for the ages, despite the defeat. McAfee, a Grade 11 guard, had a remarkable 39 points, but the Thunder held off her wrecking ball offence to cut the nets.

Sandy Saunders had a team-high 26 points for Woodstock. Senior Claire Dunlop put in her usual day of hard work with 17 points and Morgan McHatten drained 14. Saunders had 10 rebounds.

McAfee, who also had 11 rebounds, was helped by backcourt partner Emily Briggs, who cashed in 22 points. McAfee hit a three late to the game 73-73, but it would be decided on the foul line.

Dunlop was one-for-two with 1:19 left to push Woodstock ahead 74-73 and Emma Lawrence hit a pair from the stripe with 48.5 ticks left and it was a three point lead. Carleton North couldn’t cash and was forced to foul Caroline Burpee, who hit both for a 77-73 margin. McHatten hit a pair from the freethrow line with 7.4 seconds to cap the scoring. The game attracted approximately 1,300 fans.

Lakers Four-Peat With Big Win Over FCA

Another banner for the gymnasium wall in Harvey. The Harvey High Lakers won their third consecutive New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association boys A championship Saturday at Harbour Station.

Harvey stopped Fredericton Christian Academy Eagles 74-50 to win the title in front of approximately 1,300 fans, many of them clad in yellow Harvey shirts.

Much of Harvey’s offence came from Brett Curtis, the outstanding sharpshooting senior who will continue wearing green next season, moving on to play for the University of Prince Edward Island Panthers of the U Sports Atlantic University Sport conference.

Curtis drained 29 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the final game of his interscholastic career. Fellow senior Thomas Drummond was solid for the Lakers with 13 points and Grade 12 players Bradley Coburn and Alex Bennett both had nine points.

Zack McMullin had nine for FCA. Ethan Drost scored eight and hauled down 14 rebounds. Ryan Ranni and Isaac Colpitts had seven points apiece.

The final boys’ game of the weekend is Saturday is 8:30 p.m. when Woodstock High Thunder and Carleton North High Stars of Florenceville-Bristol tee it up in the Battle of Carleton County.

Miramichi Valley High Pulamoo opened Final 12 weekend with an upset win over Fredericton’s Leo Hayes High Lions to get things started.

Golden Knights Four-Peat With Win Over Harvey

The nets are going back to Grand Falls. So too is the banner.

John Caldwell School Golden Knights of Grand Falls captured the New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Final 12 girls’ A championship Saturday with a 67-46 win over a gritty band of Harvey High Lakers.

Considered the favourite, the Golden Knights were pushed hard by Harvey. The teams were tied 28-28 entering the break, but John Caldwell came out on fire in the third quarter and put it away. The Golden Knights scored early and often in the decisive quarter, outscoring Harvey, 24-9.

Olivia McClure had 17 points for John Caldwell, Allie McCarthy scored 14 and hauled down 17 boards. Gabrielle Rivard had four treys on her way to 14 points and Cassy Hemphill garnered 11. Isabelle Daigle’s 12 points and nine rebounds sparked Harvey. Gracie Grieve and Kate MacLean had 11 apiece.

Underdog Miramichi Valley Takes AAA Boys Title

It’s why you play. For a chance like this. Miramichi Valley High Pulamoo defeated Leo Hayes High Lions of Fredericton, 65-63 to win the Final 12 New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association boys’ final in dramatic fashion.

Ian Watters hit a three with 44.4 seconds to play to push the Pulamoo into a 63-62 lead and then went 1-for-2 from the line for a 64-62 lead.

Watters then fouled Leo Hayes’ Brett Speedy with 2.6 seconds left from three-ville, but the Lion stalwart converted one of three. Watters would sink a free throw for the two point margin, it stood up when Daemon Hemphill’s dramatic three as time expired hit the rim and bounced out.

There were some 1,700 on hand at Harbour Station. Watters, quiet early in the game, finished with 19 points. Garret Dickson had 17 and Zach Miersch 14 in the outstanding contest.

Daemon Hemphill’s 29 sparked Leo Hayes while Brett Speedy had 25. Hemphill had eight treys and Speedy five, but the Pulamoo shut down the rest of the Lions for the win.

Crusaders Repeat As AAA Girls Champs In Convincing Fashion

Twice as nice. After a difficult year of back and forth results, the Kennebecasis Valley High Crusaders of Quispamsis wiped out any doubt they are the class of New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association girls’ AAA basketball. Ask the almost 1,700 on hand Friday night at Harbour Station, home to the Final 12. Ask the Riverview High Royals, too.

Kennebecasis Valley rolled to a commanding 78-49 win over the Royals to earn its second straight NBIAA banner under veteran head coach Moira Gagnon. There were times the Crusaders made it look easy.

The Crusaders entered the game knowing they’d need large efforts from Alana Dowling, Julia Bennett, Delaney Perkins and Rachel Farwell, the Big 4. They got the production needed. Dowling had 15 points. Bennett and Farwell had 14 each and Perkins scored 11. Farwell had a monster night on the boards, hauling down 17 rebounds.

Abby Lacey earned some points in the fourth quarter for Riverview, finishing with 17. Grace LeBlanc had 14 for the Royals before fouling out with 4:04 to play in the game.

The loud Crusader fans chanted Re-Peat, Re-Peat as the seconds ticked away and exploded when senior Charlotte Magee hobbled to a bucket at the buzzer, playing her final high school game with an injury. Head coach Moira Gagnon and her associate Megan McKinley were also part of the Crusaders win in 2016.

Farwell, off to Canada Basketball’s under-19 training camp in March, was named game MVP.

Despite Challenging Year, Defending Champs are Back

There are challenges every season. Wins, losses, team unity, team dissension.

Many coaches draw up their road map to success during the off-season, targeting dates for where they hope to be as a team, hoping those directions eventually take them to Harbour Station and the New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association Final 12.

The map the Kennebecasis Valley High Crusaders of Quispamsis followed was anything but smooth. But, like explorers of yesteryear, the Crusaders found their way over rugged terrain, bumpy roads and highway off-ramps. They landed back at the Final 12, ready to defend their AAA girls’ title against the Riverview High Royals on Friday. Game time is 6:30 p.m.

Moira Gagnon is Kennebecasis Valley’s head coach, her fourth at the helm of the Crusaders, who defeated Fredericton High Black Kats this time last year to give the school its first AAA girls’ crown. With Megan McKinley at her side as associate coach, Gagnon said 2016-17 was, well, challenging.

“It was an unusual AAA season and several teams went through numerous peaks and valleys during the year,” said Gagnon. “Teams were beating teams one week and losing to them the next. It was either great parity or lots of inconsistency.”

The Crusaders started the season on fire, slumped, re-started the engines after Christmas, but then stumbled down the stretch.

When they dropped a regional playoff game to Fredericton and were faced with the prospects of playing consensus number one Sussex Regional High Sonics in last week’s regional championship, the soothsayers weren’t giving Kennebecasis Valley much of a chance. Someone forgot to tell the champs.

The Crusaders hung 32 points in the first quarter and held on to beat Sussex in the Sonic Dome, not for the faint of heart when it comes to high school girls basketball.

“We knew no one was expecting us to win,” said Gagnon matter-of-factly. “Because of that, there was no pressure on us. The girls focused on playing the game they love for fun. We had a great crowd from KV in the Sussex gym. Louder than the Sussex crowd a lot of the time.”

It seemed to allow the Crusaders a certain comfort zone, despite the tight-ending that propelled them to Harbour Station again. “The girls were very relaxed and shot extremely well,” said Gagnon, who coached at Rothesay High School for nine years before arriving at KVHS. “I knew it was unlikely that we would maintain such a high shooting percentage throughout the game, but it gave us a lead and gave the girls the confidence boost they needed.”

The Royals will arrive as underdogs, with the crystal ball gazers pointing to the fact that none of the Riverview players have appeared in the Bright Lights, Big City movie before at the Station. However, Riverview defeated the Crusaders in both meetings this year. The Royals can score, they can junk it up on defence and make rim attacks a tough alley to venture into.

“Riverview plays a variety of zone and press defences which is different from most teams,” Gagnon said. “They are skilled and have many players who can score. They don’t rely on one or two players for the bulk of their scoring.”

Does the fact the Crusaders have a wealth of returning players help when it is a one game, winner take all?

“Playing at Harbour Station is an incredible experience for the athletes,” Gagnon said.  “The atmosphere is great, but it is often a challenge shooting well in the large venue. Several of our team played there last year so they know what to expect but whether they can use that past experience to control their nerves will be determined on Friday.”

Ticket Information For 2017 Final 12

The top seed will be the designated home team for the NBIAA Final 12 on Friday and Saturday. Whether you want to watch the home team, visiting team or just take in the spectacle that is the Final 12 at Harbour Station, we have your ticket information.

There are two different ticket purchase packages available.

Tournament passes for all six games are $30 for floor seats which may be one of the best deals in any arena. General admission adult passes are $20, seniors and students are $15 and under 12 is $5.

Session tickets – which allows you to see two back-to-back games – are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and students and $3 for under-12.

If you buy 10 or more tickets, there are group discounts available.

The championship begins Friday with the AAA division. Top seed Kennebecasis Valley High Crusaders face Riverview High Royals in the 6:30 p.m. girls game. The boys game between top seed Leo Hayes High Lions and Miramichi Valley High Pulamoo unfolds at 9 p.m.

There are four games Saturday, broken into two sessions.

The A girls final goes at 1 p.m. between John Caldwell School Golden Knights of Grand Falls as the top seed and Harvey High Lakers. Harvey is also in the boys final at 3:30 p.m. as top seed, facing Fredericton Christian Academy Eagles.

It is an all-Carleton County AA championship session.

The girls top seed is the Woodstock High Thunder facing Carleton North High Stars of Florenceville-Bristol at 6 p.m. followed at 8:30 p.m. by top seed Carleton North and the Thunder in the boys championship.

Tickets are available at Harbour Station box office. You can reserve at 506-657-1234 or visit www.harbourstation.ca

Harvey Coach Preparing For Another Trip To Harbour Station

David MacMullin has been around the game of basketball for an awful long time. In fact, there is an old story about the veteran Harvey coach. MacMullin isn’t old school. He’s from the school they tore down to build the old school. Got that?

Thing is, if you do not continue to learn, you will fall behind and MacMullin – who guides his two-time defending New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association A champion Harvey High Lakers – never wants to stop learning. That is why he is working on something different this year with his Lakers, who are off to the NBIAA Final 12 at Harbour Station.

Harvey will play Fredericton Christian Academy Eagles in the A championship game Saturday.

When the A championship unfolds and it’s a tight game, communication can be very tough. A year ago, in dramatic fashion, Harvey defeated arch-rival McAdam High Warriors in a game for the ages. The sound system is cranked to 10.5, the fans are screaming and a coach is trying to draw up a play?

“It was so loud last year with all of those great Harvey and McAdam fans, that my voice could not be heard by the players during a time out,” MacMullin said. “So I’ve been working on sign language to get ready for this year, just in case.”

Although all three classifications – A, AA and AAA – have their legions of fans and supporters, there is something romantic about the A level when it comes to provincial championships at the Final 12. That level usually means rural schools and conjures up images of sport in its purest form.

The community rallies around its team. Cold winter nights are eased knowing there’s a game at the school. Doesn’t matter if it’s Harvey, McAdam, Grand Falls, Grand Manan or Hillsborough or a tiny private school like FCA, sitting quietly on the Capital City’s North Side. Basketball can be the fabric that brings those communities together.

The chance to slide into Saint John to watch your school play on the big stage is an emotional experience for players, coaches, fans and administrators. Make no mistake about it, MacMullin understands the weight it carries in the village.

“We are very well supported by the greater Harvey area, both during the year and at the Final 12,” he said. “The success we have had is a source of pride in Harvey. I suspect basketball has helped Harvey become known across the province. The Village of Harvey is extremely small, less than 300 people. Boundaries are tight. Most do not realise that the high school is actually outside the official village lines. However, no one really focuses on the village limits.”

That is for sure. MacMullin’s learning extends to game preparation as well.

Scott Jones of the Woodstock High Thunder is on record saying he wants his teams to be loose and embrace the moment of a Final 12. That was not always the case during MacMullin’s early foray into championship game day.

“Early in my career, I would try and get players up for the big game, key match-ups and playoffs and that always seemed to work in reverse,” he said. “They became too hyped and didn’t play well. Players already know when they approach an important and the coaching key is to get them to stay calm and help reduce or control the stress.”

For two teams on the Final 12 floor for that one game, plenty more are watching.

“I want my players to have fun, enjoy the experience and be ready to play as well as they always do,” MacMullin said. “I emphasise they are winners already. There are 30 or more other school teams wishing they were in our position. The memories made this year will be shared over the years. We are fortunate to be in the position, but every year it’s always been earned.”

NBIAA All-Stars Named For Game Sunday in Port City

The New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association’s boys’ all-star game will be held Sunday at University of New Brunswick at Saint John.

The provincial all-star gathering is a staple for the Sunday after the Final 12 championships.

Coaches from across the province selected players on a voting system from the AAA, AA and A levels.

Boys named to the all-star squad from AAA include Rasheed Ali from Saint John High Greyhounds, Bryce Corless from Kennebecasis Valley High Crusaders of Quispamsis, Minwoo Park and Sterling Simpson of Fredericton High Black Kats, Brett Speedy of Fredericton’s Leo Hayes High Lions, Chris Cameron-Kogler and Marc Hofer of Moncton High Purple Knights, Aram Currie of Riverview High Royals, James French from Moncton’s Bernice MacNaughton High Highlanders and Ian Watters of Miramichi Valley High Pulamoo.

The AA representatives are Abrhym Hill and Blake Oakes of Florenceville-Bristol’s Carleton North High Stars, Matthew Baker of Rothesay High Red Hawks, Blair Hawkins from St.George’s Fundy High Mariners, Brennan Cook of Woodstock High Thunder, Zach Boudreau of Sackville’s Tantramar Regional High Titans, Christien Dickson and Jayden McIntyre of Miramichi’s James M. Hill High Tommies, Jared Eagles of Salisbury’s JMA Armstrong High Cougars and Cameron Robichaud of Bathurst High Phantoms.

The A players earning all-star accolades include Dawson Boon of McAdam High Warriors, Brett Curtis and Thomas Drummond of Harvey High Lakers, Ethan Drost from Fredericton Christian Academy Eagles, Noah McCarthy from the John Caldwell School Golden Knights of Grand Falls, Colin Carr of Petitcodiac Regional High Panthers, Remi LeBlanc from Moncton’s Carrefour Beausoleil, Daniel Richard of Blackville School Eagles, Tim Weichmann from Cambridge Narrows School Huskies and Connor White-Richard from Minto High Tigers.

Corless and Curtis have both committed to the University of Prince Edward Island Panthers for 2017-18.

On the girls side, members from the AAA level include Reese Baxendale and Lauren Fleming from the Sussex Regional High Sonics, Rachel Farwell of the Kennebecasis Valley High Crusaders, Megan Stewart from the Saint John High Greyhounds, Lucina Beaumont of the Fredericton High Black Kats, Melanie Belong from Moncton’s Bernice MacNaughton High Highlanders, Bailey Black and Kassidy Hamilton of the Miramichi Valley High Pulamoo and Abby Lacey and Grace LeBlanc of Riverview High Royals.

The AA all-star talent has Florenceville-Bristol’s Carleton North High Stars duo Emily Briggs and Katie McAfee joining Claire Ayotte of Perth-Andover’s Southern Victoria High Vikings, Cara Babcock of the St. Stephen High Spartans, Sandy Saunders from Woodstock High Thunder, Miramichi’s James M. Hill High Tommies’ teammates Jillian LeGresley and Lauren Bushey, Samantha Arthurs from Salisbury’s JMA Armstrong High Cougars and Ashley Sherwood from Sackville’s Tantramar Regional High Titans.

The A representatives include Allie McCarthy and Olivia McClure from John Caldwell School Golden Knights in Grand Falls, Kathryn Brown and Madison McLaughlin of the Grand Manan Community School Breakers, Gracie Grieve from Harvey High Lakers, Kaylee Fullerton and Sarah McFarlane from Stanley High Blue Devils, Alyssa Campbell and Hannah Morrissey of Hillsborough’s Caledonia High Tigers and Emily McLaughlin of the Moncton Christian Academy Eagles.

Baxendale and Fleming will suit up for U Sports Atlantic University Sport’s University of Prince Edward Island Panthers next season. Stewart has committed to Ontario University Athletics York University Lions of Toronto and Farwell will return to Canada Basketball’s under-19 training camp next month in Toronto.