Quite often high performance teams often find mixed results when they travel south for tournaments and the Spartan’s basketball team got just that on the way to a sixth place finish in Grande Prairie.

Jordan Balsillie, a member of the Spartans, drives the lane during during a training camp at St. Pat’s Gymnasium earlier this year. NNSL file photo

The Arctic Appliance Spartan boys basketball team attended the Grande Prairie Wolves Senior High Basketball Classic last weekend. Their first game was a tight win over Charles Spencer High School as the Yellowknife team took it 80-72. The second game of the weekend was a different story as the boys were blown out by North Peace Secondary. A game that head coach Matt Craig said was a learning lesson for the boys.

“Our second game was a little bit tougher, playing against a team that plays all year and they even run a club team pretty much together, so they’re experience really showed with a press, they went up early and we could never battle back,” said Craig.

After the tough loss, the boys found themselves in a placement match playing for a top five finish against a familiar face. The Spartans faced off against EW Pratt, a team coached by former Team NT coach Neil Barry. The match was a tightly contested affair that eventually saw the Yellowknife team fall by a mere four points.

“We came out on the shorter end losing by four. It was a good game, a really good battle and I think the boys learned a lot,” said Craig.

The tournament was the first of the year for the Spartan’s and Craig said overall it was an encouraging start facing teams that were generally much older.

“It definitely gives us some stuff to look forward to. Knowing kind of what we’ve seen now, the level that we’re at, I was definitely happy,” said Craig.

“We’re playing in a tournament against a lot of teams that have some grade twelves and then mostly grade elevens. Where as my team is one grade twelve and nines and tens and a couple of grade elevens. We definitely have lots of room to grow, but moving forward we were competitive and it was nice to see that.”

Craig said the tournament gives the team a lot to work on moving forward. Playing in town, the team doesn’t see a lot of full court press being limited to playing against themselves and in the local adult league.

“A struggle with only the one team in town is we don’t see a press so this was the first time we had to run any kind of press break against a team that’s not our self,” said Craig. “That second game really highlighted that there’s more to the game than what we’ve been able to run due to just playing in the men’s league.”

Next up the team is looking at playing in a tournament in Calgary next March.

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