In the first day of wheelchair basketball competition at 2015 Canada Games, the British Colombia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Prince Edward Island sides all came away with wins.
The competition opened with British Columbia crushing the Manitoba team 61 – 29, after the local side took an early lead in the game. They were helped by players who came off the bench to score 35 of the team’s points. Tanner Scott scored 18 while teammate Ben Hagkull scored 10 for the winning side. Kail McCluskey put in 14 for Manitoba, while teammate Owen Rigby scored 12.
The second game saw Alberta easily top Nova Scotia 65 – 19 in a game where Alberta just dominated on the defensive end of the ball early in the game. They kept the Nova Scotia side from scoring a single point in the first quarter. Bradon Doll would finish with 18 points for the team from Alberta, while Ben Moronchuk put up 17. Ben Power led the Nova Scotia side with 9 points, with teammate Joel Goswell contributing 7.
The third game was one of the closest of the day, with Saskatchewan beating Ontario 49 – 31, following a 19 – 19 tie at the half. The Saskatchewan side came out for the third quarter ready to play, going 20 – 6. Jared Sajtos led the Saskatchewan side with 22 points and 14 rebounds. Eric Voss for 8 points for the team from Ontario.
The fourth game saw Quebec put New Brunswick 74 – 40 off 28 points and 14 assists from Benjamin Palmer. Quebec took an early lead of 24 – 2 out of the first quarter and then just cruised to victory. The Quebec side comes into this tournament with heavy expectations as they have not lost a game at the Canada Games since 1999, and are three-time defending champions. Jacob Fudge led the New Brunswick team in scoring with 20.
In the final game of the day, Prince Edward Island squeaked past British Columbia for a 60 – 54 victory after maintaining their narrow 29 – 22 lead at the half. Jeremy Watts led the PEI side in scoring with 29 points while teammate Liam Hickey put in 27. Ben Hagkull led the British Columbia side in scoring with 12 points.
At these games, wheelchair basketball allows for the participation of able-bodied participants on province side. This is not true on the international level. One able-bodied player is Avril Harris who plays for British Columbia. The 23-year-old’s father is the Director at Large of the B.C. Wheelchair Sports Association, and his mother is the regional coordinator for the B.C. Wheelchair Basketball Society’s Let’s Play program. Harris made his début for British Columbia at the Canada Winter Games in 2007. Father and son have played together at the national level.
The Games officially got underway last Friday and run until March 1 in Prince George, British Columbia. Wheelchair basketball teams arrived on Friday in preparation for the start of their games. Their competition wraps up this Friday with the finals.