Boston Pizza snares title in thriller

Lucas Punkari

In a match-up that truly was worthy of a championship final, Boston Pizza claimed the Fort Frances men’s basketball league crown last Wednesday night following a narrow 81-77 victory over La Place Rendez-Vous at the Fort High gym.
Having been the top two teams by a wide margin during the regular season, the sides traded the lead back and forth during both 20-minute halves, with Boston Pizza only edging out in front over the final minutes.
“It was a tough game out there,” Boston Pizza point guard Jon Sivonen said afterwards.
“It’s nice to win a championship, for sure, and today it was the defence that won this game for us,” he added.
The loss was a tough one for members of the Vous, who led the league with a 10-2 record after finishing at the bottom of the standings a year ago with a dismal 1-13 mark.
“It could have gone either way tonight, and I think it came down to whoever had the ball last,” reasoned forward Vic Davis.
“I think the free throws were also a key factor in this game, especially at the end, as they were able to sink their chances and we weren’t,” he sighed.
Boston Pizza went on a roll as the clock wound down in the first half, going on a 12-4 run over the final five minutes to take a 33-25 lead at the break.
But the Vous began to roar to life early in the second half—grabbing a 35-33 lead after only five minutes of action.
“At the start of the second half, they were hitting ‘threes’ from everywhere and they were making a lot of nice shots,” Sivonen recalled.
“We were playing good defence at that point, but you have to tip your hat to them and what they were doing,” he stressed.
From then on, the two teams traded the lead back and forth, with BP’s Kevin Gemmell and Josh Mastin of the Vous matching each another with back-to-back three-pointers.
With only a few minutes to go, Boston Pizza took the lead for good thanks largely to Sivonen’s efforts. He made key lay-ups and free throws, in addition to draining a clutch three-pointer.
“After we hit a couple of those shots late, we finally felt as if the game was going to go our way,” Sivonen smiled.
Sivonen led the victors with a 36-point evening while Mastin had 42 points in a losing effort.
Wednesday’s title game also marked an end to a successful season for the local men’s hoops league, which saw increased numbers after moving to Monday night’s for regular-season play.
“Hopefully, the number of players that have come out this year will continue when we start up again next year,” said Davis, who also is the league convener.
“I think that having a good tight game like we did the finals can only be a good thing for the league, as well, as it shows that the entire league can be that tough and competitive every night,” he added.