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Stunning comeback leads Weyburn over Vanier in Helping Hoops final

Eagles erase 12-point deficit in final three minutes, hit pair free throws in dying seconds to pick up win
For three quarters and the majority of the fourth during the Helping Hoops high school boys basketball tournament final, the Vanier Vikings had the Weyburn Eagles right where they wanted them.

Carrying a 10-point-plus lead much of the game from the second quarter on, the Vikings looked to be on their way to a comfortable win.

But then the final three minutes happened.

The Eagles slowly clawed their way back into the game, pulling within one with 18.1 seconds remaining. A hard press on Vanier on the next possession led to a jump ball, with the arrow in Weyburn’s favour with 9.1 seconds on the clock. The Vikings fouled Zach Olson on the ensuing play, and the Eagles’ Grade 11 would hit both free throws with a second remaining in the game.

Steal on the long pass on the inbound, and just like that Weyburn stole a 70-69 win to claim gold.

“It was a really good basketball game, back and forth, we didn’t give in to their size and intimidation against us and just kept battling,” said Vikings coach David Tardif. “In the end, we just didn’t get the ball our way, we had some shots that didn’t go in, but that’s the way it goes.

“I’m really proud of our performance this tournament, it was a good test for us to see where we are and how we can handle the pressure. We don’t see this as a big loss, it’s good for experience, we’ll learn from our mistakes and watch some game film and get right back at ’er.”

Nathan Meili led all scorers with 26 points for Vanier, who led 22-13 after the first quarter, 42-32 at half and 60-49 through three quarters.

Olson finished the game with 16 points for Weyburn, Jacob Butz also added 16.

Things were just as close in the semifinal for Vanier, as they took a 62-59 win over the Swift Current Colts, with Meili putting up 24 points.

The tournament host Peacock Toilers won their opener but didn’t have much luck after that as they fell 72-61 to Weyburn in their semifinal. Adam Blatchford scored 17 for the Toilers, Devin Baumann added 16.

That put Peacock into the third-place game, where they were again within striking distance before losing 78-68 to Swift Current. Baumann scored 21 points, Hayden Tollefson picked up 16.

The tournament acted as a charity event for the Toilers, who plan to use half of the proceeds from the weekend to help support the new Wakamow Valley disc golf course.

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