St. Stephen – After an undefeated weekend of basketball in their home gym, the St. Stephen Bobcats are Basketball New Brunswick Bantam U14 Division 4 Provincial Champions.
The Bobcats recorded strong wins in all four of their weekend outings, and secured the provincial banner with a 61-35 victory in the final over the Bath Monquarters.
In a balanced scoring attack, Grade 8 co-captain Brandon Atkinson led the Bobcats with 17 points, while Wyatt Caldwell wasn’t far behind with 16 points; Grade 8 co-captain Brodie Richardson put up nine, and Aiden Hastey chipped-in eight.
In preliminary play, the Bobcats were placed in a pool with the Moncton C Hawks, and the East Saint John B Thunder. Playing in Pool B were the Hampton Huskies, Bath Monquarters, and NMBA B Lions.
In the opening match, the Bobcats defeated the Thunder 60-29. Atkinson led the Bobcats with 18 points, while Richardson dropped in 16, and Carlos Gomez added eight.
The Bobcats downed the Hawks 86-68 in their second game. Scoring nearly half the points for the Bobcats, Atkinson had an incredible 41 point game (a season high), while Richardson chipped in a solid 25 points.
“The two together were on fire,” coach Monica Gillmor said of the co-captains’ performance.
“Their teammates helped with passes and defense, all working together to get an 86-68 win.”
Finishing first in Pool A, the Bobcats met the Huskies (second place in Pool B) in crossovers, and advanced to the final with a 73-31 result. Richardson led the Bobcats on the scoreboard with 24 points, Atkinson sank 19 points, and Hastey added 13.
The Bobcats played with a short bench, without two of their players, one due to injury (Keiran Richards, a post player, sprained his ankle early on in the tournament), but Gillmor praised the squad for playing as a unit.
She also mentioned four of the players are new to competitive basketball this season.
“They fed off of each other, as well as fed the open man all weekend. They played stellar defense, not allowing many opponents even in the paint. If they did get inside, we often had quick help side defense with minimum two defenders meeting the brave opponent entering the key.”
Gillmor also commended the strong leadership from her co-captains, who are due to move on to the high school next season.
“They will both be missed next season. They have a passion for the game and work so well with one another. Both have grown into great basketball players, valuing all coaches in their lives and using all information to form their own game.
“They have been great team leaders among their peers and have helped develop the Bobcats and make them want to work and be just as strong as they are.”
Standing beside his coach following the win, Richardson, in his third year with the Bobcats, spoke of the excitement of winning the banner in his final year with the team before moving on to the high school.
“These last three years it’s really been a challenge for us, and we’ve come close, we came second I think twice out of three years. Today was pretty emotional, but I held it together,” Richardson said with a chuckle, while Gillmor added “I didn’t.”
Richardson went on to say that he felt it was the Bobcats’ cohesion that led them to the banner.
“Every practice we work on teamwork and we’re really good friends off the court. We have good rhythm, no one really hogs the ball, we have good passing, we communicate really well and overall we just came through and we won.”
Both Gillmor and Richardson said the banner win was a fitting way to end a great season.
“I’ve always had really good basketball seasons, with hard working, committed gentlemen, but some years are great,” said Gillmor. “This year was a great season all around.”