The Canmore Crusaders JV basketball team appears unstoppable.
The 19-5 Canmore junior varsity boys are on another tear, having won three of their last four tournaments and showing no signs of slowing down.
Playing at home, the Crusaders perfected the art of the blowout at their tourney last weekend (Feb. 24-25). Against the Calgary-based Foundations of the Future school, they handed out an 82-29 whupping. For an encore, they punished the Black Diamond Oilfield Drillers to the tune of 84-14, sending them to the final. In their closest match of the tournament, they still delivered an 81-46 drubbing to the Calgary Christian School.
“We’re putting up over 80 points a game, and it’s tough to put up 80 points in JV basketball,” said head coach Mike Langlois. “We’re putting up big points against really good teams.”
Although it’s hard to imagine, the scary fact is the Crusaders are actually getting better. After a dominant start to the season, coach Langlois said they’re now playing like a full unit after a few changes to their game.
“We’ve been working on the full court press. We tweaked it by shuffling guys on the press and changing the speed of the game. We try to be a fast break team and I encourage a lot of steals.
“We have a saying. Five is one. When five play as one, you have something special,” Langlois said.
That isn’t to say there haven’t been remarkable individual efforts. In the final game of their home tournament, Luke Praught had 45 points, 16 rebounds and nine steals to lead the team. However, the full team has bought into the system, and the dividends are high.
“Someone steps up every time. We have two players (Sam McVicar and German exchange student Tim Hinenjann) who never played basketball before in their life. They’ve improved a ton. You can’t take advantage of them.”
Cole Watson is another key cog in the Crusaders machine, striking fear into opposing teams with his unmatched speed.
“He’s the fastest guy on the team and he just blazes by people. It’s like they’re standing still,” Langlois said.
However, despite the talent, there are no big stars on the squad. Everyone getting a touch is the key to the winning ways.
“Guys look for the pass first. They’re more aware of other people on the court and where they are on the court. That means guys have time to shoot now. When you have time to shoot, you make more of your shots,” Langlois said.
Scoring 80 points a night also masks the fact the team is strong defensively. Teams rarely score more than 50 points per game against them.
“We’re tough to score on and a good transition team. If you score, we’re down the court to score on you.”
After partaking in the senior boys basketball tournament this weekend in Banff, the Crusaders host Zones on March 9-10 and should be the top ranked team. Langlois has high hopes for the team’s performance, but is thrilled he has a group of guys with a passion for the game.
“I have guys who love to play basketball. Some play 10 months of the year. These kids in the summer go and play pickup every day. You can only get better by playing.”