St. Mary’s Bay Academy senior boy’s basketball team stunned the Dalbrae Dragons 72-69 and toppled the Annapolis West Education Center Knights 81-39 to take top spot in the provincial qualifying tournament in Mabou, Cape Breton, over the weekend.
The Stingrays were seeded fourth behind AWEC at the qualifiers after falling to Shelburne and AWEC in the Western Regional championships Feb. 19 in Shelburne.
SMBA coach Brad Bright said with injuries to three of his starters, his team was at a disadvantage at the Regionals.
“Being able to rest and heal before qualifiers was a big help to us in going up against Dalbrae on Friday night,” said Bright. “We had lost to Dalbrae by 10 at the New Germany tournament earlier in the season but I knew if the boys played hard for 40 minutes we could beat them in their own gym.”
Both teams played a close first half with Dalbrae holding a slim 32-31 lead at the buzzer.
Dalbrae came out strong in the third quarter pulling ahead by 15 with five minutes to play in the frame.
“I called a time out and told the boys to stay focused and if they stuck to our game plan, the game was ours.”
SMBA climbed back but still trailed 51-54 in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter before overtaking the Dragons with less than three minutes to play.
“Dalbrae made a late charge, dropping in two threes to close in on us,” Bright said. “It was intense down the stretch and for the last 30 seconds neither team could score allowing us to keep our 71-69 lead.”
With three seconds to play, Jordan Cromwell was fouled and secured the 72-69 win by making good on one of his two shots from the line.
Cromwell was outstanding for the Stingrays with a 43-point performance. Jimmy McColm added nine and Brandon Theriault finished with seven points and 12 rebounds.
AWEC defeated Springhill in their opening game Friday, night setting up the Stingrays and Knights match Saturday morning.
Playing to redeem their loss to AWEC in the Regionals, SMBA dominated the game from the jump ball and shot out front 43-14 at the half.
Cromwell again led a solid team effort, scoring 37 points, and JP Gaudet netted 21 in the 81-39 victory. Jimmy McColm chipped in 10 points and pulled down 13 rebounds while Brandon Theriault had 15 rebounds.
AWEC went on to win their second game at the tournament to qualify for a spot along with SMBA at the provincial championships March 3-5 at East Antigonish Education Center in Monastery.