In some years, the competition is so tight within the Rainbow Board Elementary Basketball Championships that one, if not both of the boys and girls finals, have required overtime to settle matters.
This was not one of those years.
The Alexander Gators and Northeastern Cougars proved virtually unstoppable throughout the 2011-2012 season and Wednesday's gold-medal affairs proved no different.
Gators girls defend 2011 title
It may not have been their best game of the year, but it was good enough to win. With stifling defence, the Alexander girls repeated as champions, defending their 2011 title with a 35-26 victory over the Carl Nesbitt Nitros in the crowded and extremely noisy gymnasium of Northeastern Public School.
"Last year was just a big surprise, because we actually hadn't won that many games all year," returnee Allie Chown said. "This year, we kind of expected to be in the finals."
Chown represents one half of the one-two punch that packs much of the power behind the Alexander attack. Chown led all scorers with 18 points, while teammate Hayley McKibbon added 15, a total that was matched by Nesbitt sparkplug Kennedi Cashmore.
"We didn't play a bad game, but it wasn't our best game," Alexander head coach Jeff McKibbon said. "Full credit to Nesbitt for that. We didn't play overly well, and part of that was that Nesbitt was better than we expected them to be."
The Gators surrendered the first bucket but answered with 11 straight points, grabbing a 19-9 lead at the half. A couple of three-point attempts by the Nitros in the second half came perilously close to cutting the margin to single digits, but Alexander held firm, staying pretty much in control for most of this game.
Cougars dominate boys basketball season
From start to finish of the season, few teams could stay in the game throughout the entire 24 minutes of play with the Northeastern Cougars.
The Pinecrest Panthers gave it everything they had on Wednesday, but ultimately suffered the same fate as so many others before them.
Led by an impressive 33-point performance from point guard Noah LaPierre, the Cougars took full advantage of home court, bolting to a 36-19 lead at the half and cruising to a 63-37 win over the Panthers.
While the offensive skill-set of Lapierre and his mates is certainly eye-catching, their commitment to the other end of the court is at least part of the reason there was just no stopping Northeastern this year.
"We worked really hard on defence with Ms. (Mary) Collinson," Ryan Taylor said. "Making sure we have quick feet, always looking at their chest or belly-button, always staying with our man. We improved our all-around game."
Taylor will join LaPierre in graduating and moving onto Lasalle Secondary, providing yet another injection of basketball talent for the Lancerdome faithful.
Guiding the crew, this year, was coach Dale Beausoleil, far more well-known for his never-ending success on the volleyball courts at Cambrian College and across the region.
"Basketball is my new love," he said with a smile. "Volleyball is still my passion, but in my last four years coaching basketball at Northeastern, I learned so, so much."
The graduation of the core of the Cougars team means that Beausoleil will now begin putting the building blocks in place for a group of Grade 5 and 6 students, one which already show signs of similarities with the crew that he will soon see off.
"They're the same type of boys as these guys," Beausoleil said. "They're gym rats. They want to be in the gym all the time and that's how you get better."
Posted by Laurel Myers