Bulldogs run the table to capture BPSN championship
The Dream Team wrapped up their dream season in style Friday night.
The Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs capped off a perfect season with a 79-59 win over the Eden Flyers in the championship final of the BSPN Best of Niagara Boys Basketball Tournament before a packed house at the St. Catharines Collegiate.
“This is everything,” Sir Winston’s Brady Pupek said, after posing with his teammates for the traditional championship photo. “We go to practice three and four days a week and work hard for this.
The 16-year-old, Grade 11 student had a quick response when asked what made the Bulldogs so dominant.
“We love each other. It’s the chemistry we have with each other.”
The Bulldogs topped the Flyers to capture the Zone 4 senior AA championship earlier this season and were thrilled with that accomplishment, particularly considering both SOSSA (Southern Ontario Secondary Schools Association) and OFSAA (Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations) were cancelled.
A chance at a tournament title in their hometown was icing on the cake.
“When we heard COVID might break us down, it hurt us, but when we heard we might come back we turned it up every day,” Pupek said. “This is everything. We’re going to cherish this.”
Churchill coach Martin Cook felt winning the BPSN Tournament trumped going to SOSSA or even OFSAA.
“This tournament, for me, took the place of those and then some,” he said. “To have local fans in this building, with all our family and friends and everybody we love cheering our boys on here in St. Catharines, it couldn’t have gotten better.”
Cook was beyond proud when asked to reflect on such a special season.
“Really hard for me to put words to it, to explain the pride I feel with what they’ve accomplished, not only on the court, but as young men,” he said. “It’s just phenomenal. I coached the group all the way up from Grade 9 and five of them are moving on so it’s a bittersweet moment.
“I was aware of the talent we had and I was aware of how much they loved each other, which I knew would go a long way. I don’t think I could have been prepared for the level of intensity, the level of competitiveness. They refused to give up.”
The Bulldogs raced out to a 21-10 lead after one quarter. The Flyers got off to cold start, finally scoring 3:32 into the opening period.
“That was pretty huge,” Eden coach Jonathon Thorpe said. “It was 10 points before we scored and were down by 10 (36-26) at the half. After that, we basically played even for the first half.
“In the first quarter, we did not look like the team we did all year. The second quarter we looked like the team did all year, but we just couldn’t sustain that for the whole game.”
The Bulldogs were ranked No. 1 in the tournament and Thorpe had no problem tipping his cap to the winners.
“They were clearly the top team in the region this year,” he said. “I’m super-proud of what our guys did all year and tonight as well.”
Bulldogs 79 Flyers 59
Cat’s Caboose Player of the Game: Churchill’s Alexien Evseyev with 24 points.
For the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs: Evseyev 24; Brady Pupek 19; Mazen Yagubi 16; Monte Evans 7; Luca Namestnik 6; Alex Ruiz 4; Gary Lin 3.
For the Eden Flyers: Chad Thorpe 14; Riley Stewart 13; Ben Johnson 10; Edson Sanecki 8; Josiah deVries 8; Graham Midgley 4; Dylan Durlov 2.
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