The Elphinstone senior boys put in a strong showing, going 3-0 to win their own Cougar Classic last weekend in Gibsons.
Elphi started the tournament on Friday afternoon with an 88-63 win over their Coast rivals from Chatelech.
On Saturday morning, Elphi beat Sullivan Heights 61-46. Sullivan Heights won their first game Friday 90-47 over Argyle. That set up the championship final Saturday night against Stevenston-London who beat Howe Sound 57-55 and Argyle 82-64.
The final was a close, competitive game with Elphi winning by 10, 76-66. See all the scores and full standings in the sports ticker on page 38.
Elphi coach Mike Sopow said he was very pleased with the effort all weekend long.
“The guys played a solid 40 minutes in every game. They played with a lot of heart and pride, especially defensively,” Sopow said. “We want to establish ourselves as a strong defensive team and I think we showed that this weekend.”
Sopow feels the strong play was a result of a wake-up call last Tuesday when the Cougars dropped a 61-58 decision to Seycove in North Shore League play.
“Seycove is a team we should beat. We didn’t play well that game, especially defensively, so I think the guys realized they had to play much better to be successful this weekend,” Sopow said. “Chat is a team we should beat and we did, and we seemed to just get stronger after that against two very strong teams. Sullivan Heights was a bigger team and we had to work hard to shut them down, and we did. Then against Stevenston-London, they were a smaller, quicker team with fast perimeter shooters, so we had to get out and deny shots and then box out and get the long rebounds.
“It was good to see us adapt well to different styles.”
Elphi has several key league games in the coming days, and Sopow hopes the strong weekend will translate into more success.
“I’m hoping this is the big turning point in our season and we take a lot out of this weekend. It shows that playing hard can be rewarding when you get the results.”
Elphi player TJ Turenne was named tournament MVP, Nate Haglund was a first team all-star, while player of the game awards went to Nolan Lewarne, TJ and Austin Perry.
For Chat it was a tough weekend with three losses to finish eighth in the eight-team tournament.
Following the opening loss to Elphi, Chat dropped a 71-54 decision to Rockridge and a 53-44 decision to Pemberton.
Coaches David Teichrob and Dikran Zabunyan were happy with the team’s play despite the three losses.
“With only seven players, everyone got a lot of playing time. We can’t ask for any more from these guys. They love playing basketball and put an honest effort into each game,” Teichrob said.
“We had several players with personal bests in the game against Elphinstone. Brendan Hickey scored 41 points while Michael Page had 10. Alex Anderson found his shot against Pemberton where he scored five three-pointers.”
Chat didn’t have a senior boys team last year, so this year the challenge is rebuilding the program.
“Our goals for this season are to strengthen individual skills and have a positive team attitude. So far we have seen improvement with every game,” he said. “The North Shore league is the best way for our team to improve and develop. Each game is a challenge, but coach Dikran and myself find little things for the team to focus on.”