CANMORE – Canmore Wolverines’ Ryan Brunet dropped eight three pointers in Saturday’s (Dec. 7) gold medal game, but he’d love a repeat of his final shot.
The Canmore Collegiate senior boys lost 84-81 to the Strathmore Spartans at its home tournament in Canmore to start off the basketball season on a high note.
With seconds remaining in the close championship game, the ball found the hot hand of Brunet, a Grade 12 shooting guard with 35 points, as he ran to the three-point arc in front of his bench and threw up a buzzer beater to tie only for his late game heroics to fly wide of the bucket.
“I knew we had about six seconds left and, initially, I didn’t have the ball and I got the ball near half [court] and by then you only have about three seconds,” Brunet said. “I’m trying to get myself open … and I had to take the shot, [it was a] horrible shot, but you have to do it, right?”
Josh Holthuis added 10 points in the game and Michael Glanznig had nine.
The Wolverines made 13 three pointers, which was highlighted by Brunet’s eight from downtown, in as a close and as exciting of a game that the Wolverines could have hoped for this early in the season, giving them an idea of what’s to come.
“Strathmore is a great team, a top team in our zones,” Brunet said. “Really, it’s not always about winning a tournament, but to see who you matchup against for the long-term goals, which is zones and maybe provincials. It does suck that we didn’t win, but it’s about long term goals.”
The Wolverines started the two-day, eight-team tournament by defeating Bow Valley rivals, the Banff Community High School Bears, 63-44.
The victory put Canmore in the semifinals against Airdrie’s George McDougall Mustangs, who defeated the Our Lady of the Snows (OLS) Avalanche in its previous game. OLS went on to win the consolation finals by defeating the Bears and the FFCA Panthers.
A victory in the Wolverines/Mustangs matchup would set up the finals with the Spartans and despite the Wolverines going seven for 26 from beyond the arc, they were able to defeat the Mustangs by double digits.
The cold-shooting Wolverines turned its fortunes around later in the day, as the team came out firing in the first quarter of the championship, draining five triples to lead 21-17.
In the next quarter, the Spartans took a 29-28 lead midway through, but the Wolverines clawed back in front with a 9-0 run to take a 42-36 halftime advantage.
The frustrated Spartans came out of the locker room with a defensive, full court press on the Wolverines. The strategy worked early as the Spartans scored the second half’s first seven points, but the stretched out defence left holes for the Wolverines' sharpshooters. Wolverines threes went up and splashed down through the hoop as Canmore nailed four straight threes to cap off a 12-0 run for the biggest lead of the night at 54-43.
However, the good times didn't last very long and the provoked Spartans answered back in a big way, going on a 13-0 run following a timeout.
“I think we got a little hot-headed and it pissed the other team off a bit and they wanted to come back at us,” Brunet said.
Spartan Daniel Mulder scored a game-high 36 points and was a two-way force around the rim with effortless layups, swatting away Wolverine shots, and even rising up for a two-handed slam dunk during a fast break.
The third ended with the Wolverines being outscored by nine and things didn’t get better at the start of the fourth.
The Spartans, however, were unable to break away from the lagging Wolverines and the game remained tight until the dying seconds. Wolverine Alex Lyon cut the lead to two points on free throws with 16 seconds left and on the ensuing inbounds play, the Wolverines couldn't come up with a steal and ate up 10 seconds from the game clock before fouling and sending a Spartan to the charity line.
The Spartan made one of two shots, but with no timeouts remaining, the Wolverines ran the ball up the court where Brunet forced up the ill-fated shot, all in six seconds.
“We were able to comeback and make it a one possession game, so it just shows how basketball turns within a couple of minutes and it can flip so you always got to keep the foot on the pedal,” Brunet said.
Despite the loss, head coach Shawn Birch said it was a good test for the team and showed they're able compete.
"It's a great tournament to build off and there's a lot of positive energy around the team right now and lot of coachable players on the team," he said. "It's a good trajectory we’re on right now and hopefully it continues."