Saints get revenge on Sentinels

Joey Payeur

The St. Francis Sentinels got the better of Kenora’s St. Thomas Aquinas Saints the first time around. But the Saints saved their best for when it mattered most.
Tyson Beckerton led all scorers with 10 points as the Saints downed the Sentinels 17-13 to capture the eighth-annual Jim Oster Invitational boys’ basketball tourament Saturday at Robert Moore School.
Saints’ coach Jo Krisko and assistant coach Kelly Brennan watched their squad take a 9-5 lead at halftime, then maintain the four-point lead throughout the second half to grab the gold and make the two-hour trip back to Kenora an enjoyable one.
“I think our guys were just a little more pumped up to play,” said Krisko, whose team had lost in the semi-finals at last year’s tourney.
“We don’t get to play an awful lot, just mostly practice,” she noted. “It’s exciting for us to be in a tournament like this and having this kind of success means a lot when we’re only in two or three tournaments all year.”
The Saints didn’t look like a team playing its first competitive games of the year as they rolled to a 3-1 record to finish second in the round-robin portion behind the first-place Sentinels (4-0).
St. Francis put up a defensive wall in the teams’ round-robin showdown, holding St. Thomas to just four second-half points in a 20-13 victory. But Beckerton, who had eight points in the first game, proved a handful again in the final—and this time had enough secondary scoring help to lift the Saints in their climactic clash.
“Tyson loves the game of basketball and is a great leader who works hard and is a great role model,” said Krisko. “His sportsmanship is incredible. He doesn’t mind sitting on the bench, he doesn’t mind letting other guys take shots, and he doesn’t mind if it’s him that needs to take the shot.
“He really helps the other guys learn the game.”
Krisko commended the tournament organizers for putting on a great event and already is looking forward to next year.
“We really appreciate the hospitality when we come to Fort Frances,” she remarked. “It’s the main reason we always want to come back.”
Gerry Parent, who served double duty Saturday as a referee while also filling in for absent Sentinels’ coach Ron Fryer, said it was a matter of missed opportunities that cost St. Francis in the end.
“I guess you could say we lost our shooting touch,” said Parent, whose team was led in the final by Will Anderson with six points and Nolan Ross with four. “We just couldn’t put the ball in the basket.
“Give the other team credit. They played very well.
“It was an excellently run tournament,” Parent added. “The teams from the area represented the Rainy River District Athletic Association very well. It was good-calibre basketball.
“I was happy with how the [Sentinels] played.”
St. Thomas started the day with an 18-6 decision over the Crossroads Tornadoes from Devlin, with Beckerton pacing the Saints with eight points. Colton Craig, Jordin Jewell, and Daniel Andy each had two points for the Tornadoes.
In its next outing, St. Thomas rested its starters in the first half and nearly paid for it against the Mine Centre Thunderbirds, who held a 2-0 lead until the final two minutes, when the Saints went on a 5-0 run to lead 5-2 at halftime.
Mine Centre, who finished third in the round-robin at 2-2 and went on to win the bronze medal, hung tough throughout the second half and just trailed 9-8 with three minutes left.
But St. Thomas flexed its muscles and went on an 8-0 run to close the game and earn a 17-8 win.
Beckerton poured in 10 points while Daniel Dennis, Kyle Stewart, Peter Windigo, and Julio Fridau all scored two points apiece for the Thunderbirds.
St. Thomas then beat the Robert Moore Mustangs 17-4, with seven different players scoring points for the Saints, including Beckerton with a game-high four.
Justin Morrison and Abe Germain each had two points for the host Mustangs.
St. Francis, meanwhile, began the day by beating Robert Moore 14-8. Adrian had six points and Scott Parsons four to lead the Sentinels. Chris Jensen, Justin Morrison, John Myers, and Michael Sheloff had two points each for the Mustangs.
The Sentinels then downed Mine Centre 15-8 as Adrian and Anderson had four points apiece while Dennis and Stewart had four each for the Thunderbirds.
St. Francis kept its roll going by dropping Crossroads 14-8, with Parson scoring six and Anderson netting four to lead the scoring parade.
Cody Tupper, Jordan McTavish, Robert Empey, and Andy had two points apiece for the Tornadoes.
Mine Centre captured the bronze medal by defeating Crossroads 17-9 in the showdown for third place. The Thunderbirds, who led only 8-7 at the half before outscoring the Tornadoes 9-2 in the second stanza, received six points from Dennis and four from Windigo.
Dennis had four points in a losing cause for Crossroads, who finished fourth in the round-robin with a mark of 1-3.
Crossroads’ only win came at the expense of the host Mustangs in the tournament’s opening contest as the Tornadoes built a 10-2 lead by halftime and cruised to an 18-10 victory against Robert Moore, which finished the day winless at 0-4 and missed the playoffs.
Craig and McTavish had six points each for Crossroads while Jewell pitched in with four. Sheloff and Jensen had four points each for Robert Moore.
The regional championships are slated for Saturday, March 7 at Fort Frances High School.