The Central Cyclones picked up a championship during their home tournament this past weekend – and earned a measure of revenge in the process.
The Cyclones built a 26-6 lead in the first quarter and never looked back against the Saskatoon Walter Murray Marauders during the gold medal game of the 58th annual Invitational Basketball Tournament at Peacock on Saturday afternoon, rolling to a 92-58 win.
The victory was especially sweet since the Cyclones – then an injured and banged-up bunch coming off the close of football season – had lost to Walter Murray in the consolation final of the season-opening Bowlt tournament in Saskatoon.
“They're a really good team, they competed with us the entire time and it's a redemption from the last tournament we were at with them,” said Cyclones senior Hardill Khubber, who led all scorers with 22 points. “That pushed us a lot, our full offence was good and our defence played great right from the beginning. They have big people inside and we just kept with them, thanks to the coaches, they had us really prepared for this one.”
The Cyclones offensive balance was once again on display in the final, as five players hit double digits. In addition to Khubber's showing, Jaxson Brownell picked up 16 points, Kyle Boughen and Fharis Ebet 12 each and Max Coulson 10.
That kind of universal team performance has been one of the main keys for Central at the start of the season, something Khubber expects will remain the same.
“We have a good group of seniors and we've lost two provincial championships in a row, so this year we're really pushing for it and giving it all we have,” he said. “It's been going good for us so far.”
Central opened the tournament with a 93-58 win over North Battleford John Paul II before downing the Estevan Elecs 87-51. That sent them into the first place pool where they took an 89-63 win over the Weyburn Eagles, who had defeated Central in the last two Hoopla championship finals.
The Vanier Vikings posted a 1-1 record in the round robin, losing a heartbreaker 70-69 to Weyburn in their opening game before rebounding with a 57-46 win over North Battleford Comprehensive. That was enough to put them in the second-place pool, where they fell in the semifinal 81-77 to John Paul II.
The Peacock Toilers went 1-2 in their four-team round robin pool, defeating the Melfort Comets 70-47 to go along with a 74-44 loss to Walter Murray and 82-73 defeat at the hands of the Yorkton Raiders. That sent the Toilers into the third-place pool final, where they fell 78-74 to Estevan.