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Annual tournament a slam dunk
Three Fort Simpson teams in medal standings at Wolfpack

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, February 13, 2014

The crowd was cheering in the Fort Simpson recreation centre with the gold medal standing still up for grabs by a hometown team in the last minutes of the junior and girls division finals.

nnsl photo

Tim Gargan-LaCasse, right, of the TSS U19 team goes for a basket attempt against Brian Laserich and John Laybolt of the All Stars North team, that was comprised of coaches, during the Wolfpack Invitational Basketball Tournament in Fort Simpson. - Roxanna Thompson/NNSL photo

The Simpson Women's team was the only team from Fort Simpson to compete in a final at the Wolfpack Invitational Basketball Tournament. The women started with the lead in the first half. The male team from Yellowknife's Mildred Hall narrowed the gap by half time.

The hometown team lost their lead in the second half, but then started to earn more points. With only a few minutes left Hannah Paulson brought the Simpson team one point closer at 29-31 after making a foul shot.

After another foul against her, Paulson made the second of two shots to bring the score to 30-31. With only 1.7 seconds on the clock, however, the women's team wasn't able to tie the game and had to settle for second place.

"They played hard so they should be proud," said Charles Gargan, who coached the team.

The women went undefeated in the round robin against Mildred Hall and the TSS junior boys. They improved with every game and played good defense, he said.

Nine teams from Fort Simpson, Yellowknife and Hay River competed in the annual tournament Feb. 6 to 8. The event was also used as the first phase of a tryout for a mixed team from Inuvik, Deline, Tulita and Fort Simpson that will be competing in the North American Indigenous Games. It was a good tournament with some close games and good sportsmanship, said Neil Barry, one of the organizers.

Barry was also one of the coaches for the TSS junior boys team that included three athletes from Bompas Elementary School. The team lost to Mildred Hall in the junior semi-finals.

The score was at 21-4 for Mildred Hall at half time, but the boys won the second half earning 14 points compared to Yellowknife's nine. The team couldn't overcome their slow start, however, and lost 30-18.

They played "really well" especially considering only one of the boys had played in a real basketball game before, Barry said. The team will be competing in the Junior Cager in Yellowknife from Feb. 21 to 23.

In the senior division All Stars North, a team comprised of coaches, won in the finals 61-52 to the Yellowknife High Performance team. Simpson Swag, a team of eight Wolfpack alumni, took third after beating the TSS U19 team 50-54.

"It was fun, definitely," Thomas Roche said about the tournament.

SWAG's best game was the first one of the tournament, also against the TSS U19 team, said Roche, who organized the team.

"Everybody just clicked together at the right time and our shots were falling," he said.

SWAG went undefeated in their round robin games, but lost to the Yellowknife High Performance team in the senior semis. The team got lazy on the defense and the players' fitness levels weren't where they should have been, said Roche.

The U19 team from Fort Simpson will be participating in the Senior Cager at the end of the month.

"We feel confident we can compete against any high school team," said Barry.

The team had close games against the two adult teams at the tournament and beat the other two high school aged teams.

The tournament was a good test for the Cager, said Tim Gargan-LaCasse who played centre for the team. Gargan-LaCasse got the last points in the bronze medal game.

"It was really intense," he said about the game.

It was exciting to see the development that happened on all of the Fort Simpson teams during the tournament, said Kristen Morrison, a coach at the high school. The senior and junior teams will be working on creating and defending screens as part of their preparation for the Cagers.

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