Case in point, the Moose Jaw Invitational tournament this past weekend.
The Cyclones went undefeated through the high-level 12-team event, defeating the Yorkton Raiders 112-98 in the gold medal game. The victory was the third straight in the tournament for Central and marked their latest success on the season.
More importantly, it was a chance for the Cyclones to assess their general improvement over a busy slate of games, and according to head coach Ryan Boughen, things are coming along at a decent pace.
“People can practice over Christmas and there’s a pretty good chunk of time there to get things done, but you never know how much you’ve improved because you practice five or six times over a couple weeks and you need some games to assess your improvement,” Boughen said. “So this was a big weekend for us to ask ‘did we get better’ and I think it was obvious to us that we did.
“We felt our communication went way up this weekend, our ability to talk to each other on the floor and the bench, we find the more our kids communicate the more they’re engaged in the game, so that was big for us too.”
Things were back and forth in the early going against Yorkton, but the Cyclones pulled away at half behind a 32-point performance from Ewan Johnson. Mohamed Jabateh added 24 points and provincial team member Dylan Boughen, 23. Boughen went down with a knee injury late in the game but early word is a mild sprain and the hope is he’ll be back on the court in a week’s time.
The contest also featured progression in an area coach Boughen expects will play a key role in the future.
“One of the things we’ve been tracking has been our offensive rebounds, where if we can hold a team to under 10 we feel that’s going to work to our advantage,” Boughen said. “We held them to only seven offensive rebounds where we had 15… Yorkton is a big and physical team, too, so to hold them to seven was a nice accomplishment for us.”
The Cyclones picked up a pair of wins in the preliminary round robin, including an 83-26 win over Melfort. Boughen scored 23 points, Jabateh added 11 and Quinton Ross 10.
The semifinal saw Boughen put up 24 points in a 73-60 win over the Unity Warriors. Jabateh scored 14 and Johnson added 12. Unity’s Matthew Snell was their top scorer with 23 points.
The Peacock Toilers were also in action during the event, losing their first two round robin games before taking a 78-33 win over North Battleford Comprehensive in the third-place draw semifinal.
Devin Baumann led all scorers with 17 points, Dominick Mall added 13.
The third-place draw final ended up being a barnburner of a game that saw the North Battleford John Paul II Crusaders take an 83-78 win. The Toilers got off to an impressive start, scoring 31 first-quarter points and taking a nine-point lead in the process.
The Crusaders found their stroke after the short break, though, and would take a 44-42 lead into the half before extending their lead to 66-52 through three quarters.
Tata Mugisha scored 27 points for the Toilers, Baumann added 14. The Crusaders were led by Cole Fransoo with 23 points.