In a game that was like a 15 round heavyweight boxing match the Sutherland Sabres outlasted the Windsor Dukes 54-50 to take the 2014 AAA Howe Sound Championship. The two teams were very familiar with each other as they played a number of times during the season and this was their second game within 24 hours.
Sutherland wanted to get down the floor and run the ball to take advantage of their athleticism, Windsor was content to walk the ball up the floor and pound it inside to take advantage of their size. The score at the end of the first quarter was 14-12 for Sutherland and it was clear that there would be no easy baskets in this game. Hunter Mason hit a long three early in the second quarter to put WIndsor ahead for the first time, but Sutherland answered back, and the lead changed hands 5 times in the second quarter alone.
Gaddy Zubaidi of Sutherland and Khalil Shivji of WIndsor established themselves as the "go to" players for their respective teams. Zubaidi has 12 at the half, Shivji had 11 and Sutherland held a one point lead at the break.
The battle continued in the third quarter as Shivji hit a 3 to get things going but Sutherland answered back with a run and built a 5 point lead which did not last as Windsor quickly closed the gap by midway in the third. Nothing was settled at the end of the third quarter as Sutherland continued to cling to a one point advantage.
Sutherland again pulled away early in the 4th, but again WIndsor fought back to close the gap to 2 points midway through the 4th quarter and it was clear that this one was going down to the wire. With less than 4 minutes to go Sutherland stretched their lead to 7 points on a steal by Cole Keffer. As the clock was winding down it looked like the game was done but Shivji hit a miraculous trey and the Dukes were down three with 14 seconds to go. Keffer made one of two foul shots and that was enough as the Sutherland Sabres won 54-50 in front of a boisterous home crowd.
"Our Grade 12's have been warriors their whole careers and I'm happy they got the job done one more time. The kids from Windsor gave us everything we could handle so full credit goes to them and their coaches," said a relieved Brad Thornhill after the game.
Graddy Zubaidi lead all scorers and was elected the "NO REGRETS" player of the final game along with tournament MVP. Cole Keffer and Jeremy Elliott of Sutherland were named Tournament All-Stars.
Windsor's backcourt duo of Khalil Shivji and Braeden Snelling both had spectacular tournaments for the Dukes and were also named to the Tournament All-Star team as was Hunter Mason who was a force in the middle for Windsor.
The Sabres will now move on to play in the Telus AAA Provincial Championship in Langley later in March.
(FINAL GAME PHOTOS WILL BE AVAILABLE ON THIS SITE LATER THIS WEEKEND)