Monday, December 22, 2008

Wolverines Win Sun Youth Basketball Tournament, Improve to 11-2

The Bridgton Academy Basketball Team spent the weekend in Montreal, Canada for the annual Sun Youth Basketball tournament. The Wolverines faced John Abbott College, Sun Youth Organization, Dawson College, and Champlain St. Lambert en route to capturing the tournament championship.

Even before making the trip up Head Coach Whit Lesure had some kind words for those responsible for putting on the Sun Youth Tournament saying, "I'm just happy to be a welcomed guest of such a great organization that reaches so many lives in the community in significant ways..This trip goes way beyond basketball and I think our guys are able to get a sense of that."

The Wolverines got started Friday as they faced John Abbott College in the final game of the night to open up their first of two games in pool play. Dwayne Smith (Toronto, Ontario) and Malik Stith (Long Island, NY) led a strong offensive charge that saw Bridgton open up a 45-29 halftime lead before going on to win by a final score of 79-57. Smith led three players in double figures with 20 points, followed by Justin Rake (Mandeville, LA) with 12, while Stith added 10.

Game 2 of pool play saw the Wolverines take on Sun Youth Organization Saturday evening. Bridgton came out firing making a season high 9 3-point field goals in the first half alone (12 in the game). With the score 54-21 heading into halftime, minutes were spread around rather evenly over the course of the game resulting in all 13 Wolverines getting significant minutes. Justin Rake led all scorers with 17 points, followed by Dwayne Smith with 13, while Garrison Gross (Buffalo, NY), Carl Blair (Katy, TX), and Jerrel Harris (Grand Prarie, TX) scored 8 apiece.

With pool play over the Wolverines headed into the semi-finals 2-0 and squared off against Dawson College in a Sunday morning showdown. A highly contested game throughout, Bridgton was able to build up a slim 39-35 lead to start the second half, however Dawson College would just not go away. After exchanging baskets throughout the second half the Wolverines were able to hold on for a 69-61 win and punch their ticket to the Championship game. Dwayne Smith again led the team scoring 18 points, followed by Jamal Crook (Louisville, KY) with 10, Jack Houpt (Chesterton, IN) 10, Malik Stith 9, and Kauri Black (Rialto, CA) 8.

Just 6 hours after defeating Dawson College in the semi-finals, Bridgton Academy found themselves taking the court once again, this time against Champlain St. Lambert in the Championship game. The two teams had met earlier this season at the National Prep Showcase, a game that Bridgton Academy won by a score of 65-46.

Knowing all well that Champlain would be looking to avenge the early season loss the Wolverines came out strong playing patented Bridgton basketball that starts on the defensive end. After forcing 10 first half turnovers and converting on virtually every free throw opportunity, the Wolverines built up a 13 point, 42-29 halftime lead. Leading after halftime is a position the Wolverines have found themselves in a number of times this season, however the opening minutes of the second half has sometimes given their opposition hope. Wolverines Head Coach Whit Lesure made the point to say, "It comes down to guarding. We relax a bit when we get a lead, I made sure to remind the guys that their efforts today would determine the types of practices we had when they returned from vacation." With that in mind the team was able to sustain and even expand their lead at times throughout the second half before going on to win by a final score of 81-71. Dwayne Smith again led the team in scoring with 20 points, followed by Justin Rake with 15, Kauri Black 13, and Jamal Crook 10.

When asked for some final thoughts on the weekends games Lesure responded by saying, "I think we made some progress as a team over the last week. Our offense was really good at times this weekend, we shot the ball about as well as we have all season, and we did it consistently. It's always a great trip for our teams, we had a great time again this year."

It is important to mention that the trip wouldn't have been made possible without Bridgton Academy bus driver Scotty Brown. Mother nature threw everything it had at him over the course of the weekend but he more then prevailed earning weekend MVP honors from Coach Lesure for his performance on the drive back saying, "No one performed any better than Scotty did coming across Franconia Notch Sunday night...I loved it but then again I'm a little nuts too.

The four wins on the weekend put the Wolverines record at 11 wins and 2 losses heading into the break as the team will be off until January 7th when they head back up to Canada for a pair of games in Ste. Foye.

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