ESTEVAN - The Estevan Comprehensive School Elecs senior boys’ basketball team had a strong showing at the eight-team Estevan Invitational Tournament on the weekend, winning two of three games and reaching the A final.
The Elecs dropped an 80-42 decision in the final to Prince Albert Carlton – the top-ranked team in the province for 5A small cities teams.
“It was a good learning experience for the guys,” said head coach Tanner Kozun. “They hadn’t seen a team of that calibre yet. It was a little bit of a shock.”
Estevan opened the tournament with a 74-56 victory over Yorkton Regional High School – a game that Estevan trailed 15-7 after the first quarter.
Their next game was a 71-56 triumph over the Weyburn Comprehensive School Eagles. Kozun noted it was nice to beat Weyburn because ECS lost to the Eagles earlier this season.
“After having taken an eight-point loss to them when we were in Swift Current, to bounce back and beat them pretty convincingly the way we did was really good,” said Kozun.
In the first two games against Yorkton and Weyburn, the Elecs did a good job of establishing their defence in which they pressure the ball.
“We like to make sure that defenders see multiple sets of hands to make passes difficult, and we like to get teams to pick up the ball, challenge them to see if they actually can ball-handle, and if they can’t, we pick it up, and put the ball in the air to try to make passes,” said Kozun.
They weren’t able to establish that type of game against Carlton. Kozun said Prince Albert did a good job of getting Estevan out of their game, and dictating the pace of the game.
The tournament was the last game action for the Elecs prior to the annual McLeod Series showdown against the Eagles, in which the senior boys and girls teams from each school face each other in a home and home.
The first two games are slated to occur Tuesday night in Weyburn.
The other two games are to be played in Estevan on Feb. 16.
The McLeod Series is a best-of-four competition. If it is tied at 2-2 following the four games, then point differential is the tie-breaker.
The tournament was not only good preparation for the McLeod Series, but for the rest of the season.
“It was probably the best draw that we could have got,” said Kozun. “We got Yorkton, Weyburn and then PA. To get three solid games against teams that we need to see where we stack up against was really good competition.”
Each game challenged the players in different ways, and they had to adjust.
Kozun noted that he has a young team this year, especially for a squad at the 5A level, which is for the largest schools in the province. There are three Grade 12s on ECS this year, but there are also six Grade 10s and a Grade 9.
“Despite how young we are, we are competing with the Grades 11s and 12s across this province, even with a Grade 9 and Grade 10s. I think that speaks to not only how hard these kids play and how good they are right now, but how good they really can be in a couple of years. They can be the team that is what Carlton is right now, whether it’s next year, depending on how much they grow, or the year after,” said Kozun.