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Cochrane Basketball League three-on-three tournament a smash hit

A team from Cochrane made it to the finals in the U20 division but lost by just one point to Calgary's Don Hakob team

The roof was all but blown off the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre (SLSFSC) during Cochrane Basketball League's inaugural three-on-three invitational tournament April 17.

Seventeen teams from Cochrane and the surrounding region competed for trophies, cash prizes, and bragging rights in the tournament's U20 and open categories.

In the end, players from Calgary's Havoc Training Centre secured the first-place trophy in the open division and the Don Hakob team, also from Calgary, won the U20 competition.

 "I feel so overwhelmed and so proud because the tournament was successful and also our Cochrane boys got into the finals," said event organizer Bryan Verdillo. 

"They [lost] by just one point."

It was a close match which ended in a narrow loss of 14-13 for the Cochrane team made up of Charles Ventura, Iry Hona, John Paul Giga, Arman Jeff Flores, John Flores and Cochrane High School's Max Sauter, and Sam and Jack Smilski.

Despite the loss, Verdillo said he still considers the tournament to have been a success for the young athletes, who took home a sportsmanship award. 

"It was so electrifying, especially the U20 championship – both teams were exchanging points at the end and the community and the audience were on their feet," he said.

The tournament was largely about highlighting local basketball talent to both the community and to the scouts, agents, and coaches who were present. Verdillo believes they achieved that goal with how many people the event attracted.

"There's a lot of young talent from Cochrane," said Verdillo. "Our population is booming and the talent is booming as well."

Just last month, the Cochrane Cobras senior boys' basketball team took home its third ever provincial championship in the Alberta Schools' Athletic Association 3A division. 

"We want the Cochrane Basketball League to become the benchmark for these athletes," said Verdillo.

"This event was a good balance of giving us good entertainment, exposing the sport of basketball here in Cochrane and discovering new possibilities in our town that the surrounding areas might not get to see. It highlights our basketball community and culture here."

With the help of sponsors, the league was able to offer not only first-place trophies and sportsmanship awards, but also MVP awards in each category, as well as cash prizes to the winners.

Up next, the league will host Havoc Training Centre April 29 and 30 at SLSFSC for a skills and development training clinic.

The clinic will also be hosting training dates in May and June, open to beginners five to eight years old, intermediates nine to 13 years old and experienced players 14 to 17 years old. 

For more information, contact Verdillo at 403-681-9482. To stay up to date on all Cochrane Basketball League events, follow the group's Facebook page.