THE Garden City Fighting Gophers won a second straight Salisbury House High School Boys Wesmen Classic title on Friday, their fourth in five years.
The Gophers also boasted the tournament’s most valuable player and the winner of the Top Gun three-point shooting contest, for which the team won a set of Adidas practice jerseys.
It’s a good thing the paint was stuck to the floor at the Duckworth Centre or the Fighting Gophers might have run off with that, too.
With just eight players — three of them scoring in double figures — Garden City defeated the Kelvin Clippers 67-59.
"It’s so great for us to win this, I’m proud of my team. We’re on the map now," said Grade 12 guard Jonas Tugade, named the player of the game after he drained five three-point shots and finished with 17 points. Tugade also won the tournament’s three-point shooting contest at half-time. "Winning this lets people know who we are. I’m really excited about this team."
Andre Arruda-Welch, the Gophers’ Grade 12 forward, led all players with 25 points and was named the tournament MVP. Tynan Reyes, Garden City’s 6-foot-6 grade 11 post, was named to the all-star team and scored 20 points.
"We came in focusing on their defence, wanting to shut down their inside game and it worked a lot," said Reyes.
Kelvin was led by all-star selections Stephen Jones with 23 points and Kristjan Lamont with 15.
Garden City was missing starting point guard Josh Magpantay, who suffered a leg injury in Thursday’s semifinal, but backup Jayel Masangkay played like the job belonged to him. Garden City was also without post Brian Bautista, who was out of town.
"I’m so proud of our guys, everybody stepping up," said Garden City head coach Phil Penner. "With Josh being hurt and Jayel taking over and playing the whole game, and the whole team effort behind him. What impressed me the most was the mental toughness we showed. We missed Josh but we didn’t have a letdown. Our guys really wanted to win the game."
Kelvin had trailed by as much as 15 early in the fourth quarter but took a run at a comeback in the final two minutes, Lamont, the Clippers’ 6-foot-6 forward, sank a three-point bucket to follow by a basket by Jones to pull them within eight points. But the Garden City defence went to work and Arruda-Welch knocked down two inside jump shots to seal the deal.
"Offensive rebounding by them was unbelievable, when they got one they put it in every time. And, they’re a very well-coached team," said Kelvin head coach Don Lamont, whose team won the Brandon Sun Spartan Invitational tournament earlier this month.
"I’m not disappointed. I think there’s six or seven teams that could win the provincial title this year."
Also named to the all-star team were Zach Regert of the Sturgeon Heights Huskies and Brett Jewel of the John Taylor Pipers.