With all the off-season hullabaloo in the Yk Basketball Association, you would think the balance of power would change.
Not so fast, said the Territorial Beverages Wolves.
The men’s squad captured their sixth title in seven years thanks to their win in game three of the championship series at Weledeh Gymnasium on March 15 over Jazz Yk.
Simon Markowski of the Wolves said of all the title wins, this was the hardest of them all.
“By far this was the toughest,” he said. “We never lost a game in the finals until this year. Jazz was very competitive and they played amazing.”
If the regular season was anything to go by, this was always going to be a close series as the six games were split evenly, each team winning three. The Wolves won game one of the championship series but lost bad in game two, according to Markowski, before regrouping for game three and managing to hold off the challengers.
“We got outplayed big time in game two and they wanted it more than we did,” said Markowski. “They played really well in game three, but we were able to make some big shots and pulled away in the fourth quarter.”
Jazz tried to foul the Wolves down the stretch to try and stop the clock and get back in the game, but it didn’t work as the Wolves managed to make their free throws.
“We just held on and held them off,” said Markowski.
Markowski was full of praise for the opponents, who he said made sure the final was one of the more competitive ones in recent memory.
“Kirk Tastad played great for them,” he said. “He was hurt for game one, but he played great in games two and three. Vince Belanger, who I think is one of the best players in the league, had a great series and Simon Arlooktoo is a great defender for them.”
But there were players on the Wolves who came up big as well, he added.
“Kyle Bench and Morgan Gallagher had great games,” he said. “Morgan is our guy in the middle and he came up big for us like he always does.”
Mike Auge and Damien Healy, two of the league’s grizzled veterans, joined the Wolves in the off-season and Markowski said it was nice to be able to give them a championship in their maiden voyage with the team.
“They were very valuable resources for us, for sure,” he said.
There was even kind words from Markowski about the officiating, which is usually a thankless job.
“Jordan Crosby refereed two games of the final by himself,” he said. “We gave him some grief but he did an excellent job.”