Vikings conquer provincial high school hoops scene

Published on March 24, 2014
Evan Codner of the Gonzaga Vikings looks to drive past Chris Dobbin of the Corner Brook Titans at the provincial 4A Tier I high school basketball final at MUN gym Sunday. The Vikings won 77-66 to cap off a superlative season. — Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram

Colin Connors scored 18 points and Curtis Mullowney added 11 as the the Gonzaga Vikings added to an impressive trophy haul by winning their second straight provincial boys 4A tier I high school basketball title Sunday, defeating the Corner Brook Titans 77-66 at the Memorial University gym.

Nathan Barker of the Titans led all scorers in the game with 23 points, while Mark Rowsell had 14 for Corner Brook.

The Vikings got to the final by beating the Booth Braves 94-73, while Corner Brook defeated the Mount Pearl Huskies 82-77 in the other semifinal.

It was eighth tournament title of the season for the Vikings, including the Hall of Fame Cup (Elite Eight) championship in February, when they defeated Booth in double overtime.

“I think we’re going to have to find more space on the wall for the banners,” joked Vikings’ head coach Yasir Khan, whose team also took the Mount Pearl Wendy’s, Holy Heart Invitational, Keith Keating Memorial, Bishops Invitational and St. John’s city league titles, as well as a win in their own invitational tournament.

Khan noted he was able to count on 12 different players during the provincial 4As, which were hosted by the Bishops Barons, with most games at the Bishops gym.

“You know, we received strong performances from everyone throughout the tournament, but today I really have to give credit to our two co-captains,” said Khan.

“Colin Connors, who is in Grade 11, had 18 points, six assists and five points and made some clutch (three-pointers). And Christian Greenland, who is going to MUN next season, had nine points and 10 rebounds for us. He really controlled the boards today.”

The Vikings forced 40 turnovers from a Corner Brook team that many saw as a surprise finalist, having lost 10 players from last year’s roster.

“I give credit to them for what they’ve done with a very young team,” said Khan. “They have some great players like (Grade 10 student) Nathan Barker, who was very strong in today’s game and throughout the tournament.

“They’re worth watching over the next couple of years.”

The Vikings, who will lose five of 15 players to graduation, obviously played a lot of winning basketball this season, but their coach had particular praise for their work ethic in practice.

“The boys practised more than any other team I have had. Three times a week, they were in the gym at 7 a.m. and working hard,” said Khan. “And they worked hard today. They wanted this and it showed.

“We were down by seven points at one point in the third quarter, but then we went on a 16-0 run and didn’t look back.

“They don’t quit. They just try harder.”

Members of the Vikings team include Greenland, Connors, Mullowney, Ryan Hanlon, Liam O'Leary, Mark Jackman, Cameron Youden, Noah Gullage, Evan Codner, Nick Hayes, Davin Brown, Matty McCrowe, Ryker Richard, Andrew Tuck and Ben Ralph.The coaching staff includes Mark Miller, Mark Woodland, Adam Pike and Ian Hayes, while Alex Brown is the team’s manager.