GREENWICH, NS - There couldn’t have been a more dramatic conclusion to the Horton High New Year’s Classic boys’ basketball tournament if it had been scripted.
The outcome of the tournament – hosted by Horton in Greenwich from Jan. 3 to 5 - quite literally came down to the final buzzer in the championship game between the Division 1 Horton Griffins and Bernice McNaughton High School (BMHS).
The score was tied at 68 with 21.8 seconds left when BMHS scored a point on a foul shot. BMHS sank another foul shot with 3.2 seconds left on the clock, putting the score at 70 to 68. It appeared that Horton retaliated by scoring a two-point basket at the buzzer, which would have tied the game. The gymnasium erupted in celebration but the basket wasn’t allowed, so the final score sat at 70 to 68 for BMHS.
Horton Griffins coach Mark Clarke said Horton had momentum and had its chances. There was some disappointment among the players to have the championship game slip through their fingers but they know deep down that three seconds wasn’t much time to get the ball to the opposition’s hoop from more than half a court away.
“That’s a win for us no matter what, whether we won that game or lost that game,” Clarke said.
He said the play was a little sloppy in the first couple of tournament games with the team coming off Christmas break but everyone came to compete and they stepped up for the championship game. The team had wins over North Nova and Prince Andrew leading into the final.
“You couldn’t ask anything more of the guys with 20 seconds left, to be down by two with a chance to win it,” Clarke said. “If the ball rolls the other way next time, it will be our chance.”
Forward Ethan Sperling was named player of the game for Horton while forward Dakota Ouwendyk was named player of the game for BMHS. All-star awards went to Horton guard Isaac Clarke and to BMHS guard Emmanuel Octavious. The tournament MVP was BMHS guard Sam Maillet.
Clarke said the Horton players bonded together as a team and were engaged throughout the tournament, even on the bench.
He hopes that the outcome of the Horton New Year’s Classic would get the fan base talking and hopefully they would pack the gym when Horton hosts the Division 1 boys’ basketball provincials on March 2 and 3.
Clarke said the players would be “working on the little things” and concentrating on details heading into provincials. If anything, the game against BMHS gave the Griffins confidence and showed them that they can compete at the top level.