Imagine, if you will, February 2020. The world was first hearing about this super-virus making its way around the planet, but it had yet to reach our fair land here in the NWT.

The Junior Cager basketball tournament was just finishing up and all was going well. So well, in fact, that there was talk about how things would go for next year.

Little did the Cager know that it would end up being the last school sports tournament until September 2022.

For the first time since that fateful year, the Junior Cager was back this past weekend with games happening all around the city. Six banners were up for grabs — boys and girls in each of Grade 6, 7 and 8 divisions — with most of the winners determined on Saturday. The only division which went to Sunday was the Grade 8 boys, a battle between St. Pat’s White and St. Pat’s Green.

That contest ended up being a 68-59 win for St. Pat’s White, a bittersweet win in the opinion of Jozuard Mercado, who was one of the student coaches for the team.

He said it was a shame only one of the Irish teams could come out on top.

“We wanted both to win, but we knew that would be impossible to do,” he said.

St. Pat’s White jumped out to a big lead in the first half and that gave the team a chance to empty the bench. St. Pat’s Green, though, used that to their advantage and slowly crept back into the picture.

Justin Quito, who was one of the St. Pat’s Green student coaches, said had there been some more time, things could’ve ended differently.

“Time just wasn’t our friend,” he said. “We could’ve done it with a few more minutes, I think.”

St. Pat’s also won the Grade 8 girls division to give the Irish a sweep. William McDonald also had a sweep of their own as the Wildcats took both banners in the Grade 6 division. The Grade 7 division saw St. Joe’s win the girls title and Princess Alexandra School of Hay River claim the boys crown.

It was a rather exciting win for the Panthers as they had the Grade 6 boys and Grade 7 girls teams on hand at Range Lake North Gymnasium and they were celebrating right along with champs, said Panthers coach Jason Morrissey.

“We had our fans and Weledeh had their fans, so it had a hometown feel to it,” he said. “It was just sheer joy for our kids and the parents. We had some of the kids in tears and some of the parents as well. Just a really cool feeling.”

That was the sentiment among some of the other student coaches at St. Pat’s, including Naledi Ndlovu, who was coaching the St. Pat’s Green team.

“It felt really good seeing the kids get back to doing what they love and that’s playing sports,” she said. “Being away from it took a toll on the athletes and the morale level was really down, but you can see the difference now that it’s back.”

The Senior Cager, featuring the older students, is set to tip off on Thursday.

James McCarthy

I've been hanging around the office as the sports editor for the better part of the last 16 years. In August 2022, NNSL Media decided to promote me to the managing editor's position, which I accepted after...

Leave a comment

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.