It’s been a while since a Prince Edward Island basketball team had as big a victory as it did Monday at the Canada Games.
P.E.I. erased a five-point deficit after three quarters to defeat Alberta 67-57 in an electric gym in Sherbrooke, Que.
“It was crazy,” said Kenan Wilkie, a 17-year-old from Alberton. “Being able to win one, especially against a team from out west, was really big.”
The news quickly spread back home and coach Jared Cheverie’s phone lit up as family, friends and colleagues in the basketball world shared their excitement for the Island’s program.
“It’s fantastic for us,” Cheverie said. “It’s a great reward for all the hard work and sacrifices (the team has) made.”
The women’s volleyball and soccer teams were on hand to cheer on the Island and show their provincial pride.
As the final buzzer sounded the players rushed off the bench to celebrate the victory. Before leaving the court, the players showed their appreciation for the fans’ support.
Cheverie said the boys were “cool, calm and collected” on the way to the gym.
“They were mentally strong,” he said.
The basketball team has been close to the larger provinces in other competitions, but couldn’t find a way to close out the games.
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“We weren’t nervous,” said Wilkie, who had 14 points and seven rebounds. “We knew we could beat Alberta. We had the confidence and we were ready for them.”
Charlottetown's Logan MacDonald was the top scorer with 18 points.
Stratford's Noah Giddings had eight points and 11 boards while Summerside's Patrick Murray added eight points.
Saren Westrop was the lone Albertan to score double digits. He had 27 points.
While determining how big Monday’s win was hard to do, some suggest the last win of that magnitude at the Canada Games may go back to the early 1990s.
Cheverie said the program has really grown during the past few years. In 2007 there were 17 players try out for the under-17 team while 40 players competed for the 12 Canada Games’ roster spots.
“Hopefully the buzz will continue,” he said.
P.E.I. (1-1) plays New Brunswick (1-1) this morning at 11:45 a.m. Atlantic. New Brunswick coughed up a 20-point lead in the first half in a 79-74 loss to Manitoba on Monday.
“Our confidence is very high right now,” Wilkie said. “We’re not nervous, we’re ready.”
New Brunswick defeated Alberta 57-54 on Sunday.