IT was a sweet three-peat for the Garden City Fighting Gophers.
Led by Josh Magpantay's 25 points, Garden City defeated the Oak Park Raiders 89-76 in the in the high school boys' final of the Wesmen Classic basketball tournament at the University of Winnipeg Duckworth Centre on Sunday night.
Garden City is the first high school boys' team in the 46-year history of the tournament to win three straight Classic crowns.
"I'm proud of our team. It was a tough game to win and it's just getting us pumped for the second half (of the season)," said point guard Magpantay, a member of all three championship teams. "I'm pretty happy. Not too many players have a chance to win three of anything in high school so it's pretty special."
Adding to Garden City's glory was Grade 12 guard Ryan Hawley, who won the three-point shooting competition, knocking down 14 of a possible 18 points in the 40-second time limit. He won a set of practice jerseys for his team.
"I feel so good for the guys. Every team puts in a lot of work -- we do too -- and it's nice to see them get a reward for it," said Gophers head coach Phil Penner. "Oak Park's a really good team and we knew they were going to make a run sometime in the second half. We just thought if we could maintain our poise and work through that, we'd be okay."
The Gophers used their lightning-quick passing to penetrate the Raiders' defence and get some key buckets inside to open up a 49-36 halftime lead. The Raiders dominated the third quarter, going on a 8-0 run to close the gap, with guard Junior Sesay owning the floor. He scored 14 points in that quarter alone and 29 on the night. The Raiders tied the score at 58-58 with about three minutes left on a Brenden Alexander three-pointer and trailed by 71-70 after three frames.
In the fourth quarter, Garden City took the game back as Grade 12 post Tynan Reyes dominated the boards and fired up the pass-and-score chemistry with Magpantay. Oak Park came within four points with three minutes left, but the Gophers slammed the door with a 9-0 run.
"Hats off to them (Oak Park), they played amazing defence today," said the 6-foot-6 Reyes who scored 18 points. "The key for us is to just push the tempo, we have lots of speed. We're one of those teams that just has to grind for every minute."
The Raiders lost to Garden City 99-84 earlier this month in the final of the Brandon tournament.
Guard Casey Blanca said the two losses will make the Raiders work harder.
"Second time in a month," said Blanca, who scored 20 points. "(To beat Garden City) we've got to hit our shots, get down in transition and keep our pace up."
Oak Park also got 16 points from Alexander. Garden City's Jowel Shuffler was named player of the game as he came off the bench to score 16 points.
The tournament all-stars were St. Paul's Justus Alleyn, Kildonan East's Ayob Ayob, Blanca and Sesay from Oak Park and Garden City's Magpantay.