Plainsmen defeat Spartans in NIT final


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Colsie Lewis had no problem crashing the Neelin Spartans’ party.

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Colsie Lewis had no problem crashing the Neelin Spartans’ party.

The Crocus Plains senior led her Plainsmen varsity girls’ basketball team to a 63-46 win over the Spartans in their home Neelin Invitational Tournament final on Saturday afternoon.

“Feels really nice,” Lewis said. “They’ve worked hard too to try and prevent this and get a win in their home court but we held our ground and did what we had to do.”

It was a bounce back for the Plainsmen, who lost the fifth-place game in two tournaments featuring top-10 AAAA teams in Winnipeg earlier in January. They fell to the No. 1-ranked Dakota Lancers before beating St. Mary’s 37-23 and going down 54-44 to Jeanne-Sauve at the St. Vital Invitational. The Plainsmen lost 62-39 to the fourth-ranked Westwood Warriors the next weekend, then beat Glenlawn 53-37 and went down 47-36 to Oak Park.

They’ve fared much better in Brandon High School Basketball League play, however, sitting 3-0 with a chance to secure a bye to the best-of-three final on Feb. 14 against Neelin (1-1).

Crocus reached the final with a 69-39 win over Margaret Barbour and a 47-32 victory over Dauphin. The Plainsmen dominated the first half of the final, leading 34-17 and increasing the gap to more than 20 before the Spartans’ press finally broke them and led to a few buckets. Neelin cut the deficit to 42-31 but Crocus pulled away.

“We were all pretty nervous … we know it’s been a close game and a good battle. Told each other to stay calm and help each other out,” Lewis said.

“We’ve all got a stronger chemistry (than in December). We’re getting a lot of ball movement, helping each other, and being there for each other.”

The Plainsmen created too many open drives to the hoop for the Spartans to keep pace, and knocked down some timely three-pointers as the hosts made it interesting.

Rylee Wiebe led Crocus with 19 points while Madison Kwiatkowski had a game-high 21 for Neelin.

Overall, the Spartans felt good about the weekend, which started with a 72-34 win over Virden and included a 64-36 semifinal triumph over Stonewall.

“It was impressive. I was happy with the way we played against Virden especially, they have a really good girl, Fiona (Garcia). But we kept her on the outside and made sure she didn’t get the pass,” said Neelin’s Claire Foerster.

“It was unfortunate about Crocus. I feel like we have a mental block just because it’s Crocus and we always lose to them by under 15 points. We were hoping to pull through … but we’ll see them again.”

Stonewall dropped Dauphin 50-47 for bronze, while Vincent Massey beat Garden Valley 58-15 in the fifth-place game.

Garcia dropped 44 points to lead Virden to a 61-57 win over MBCI for seventh.

On the boys’ side, Neelin beat Garden Valley 53-51 in the top power pool on Jeremy Slomiany’s 29 points. The Zodiacs beat the Vikings 77-62, leaving Massey and Neelin to square off in a game the Spartans could win to finish first, or lose to leave the pool tied at 1-1. The two Brandon teams decided not to play since they see enough of each other during the regular season.

Crocus beat Neepawa 100-63 and dropped Virden 84-69 to win the second pool and finish fourth while Dauphin downed Ste. Anne and Gilbert Plains/Grandview to finish seventh.


» Twitter: @thomasmfriesen

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