By Maddie Keenlyside
March 6, 2014
It may have been bitterly cold outdoors, but there was a heated battle taking place on Holland College’s Community Centre for Engagement on the night of March 4. The Charlottetown Rural Raiders and Colonel Gray Colonels both vied for the PEISAAA men’s championship, but victory went the Raiders by a score of 63-38.
The two teams were close for the first half of the game. But something changed in the second half as the Rural Raiders scored basket after basket.
There was competition and enthusiasm in the air, sometimes a little too much – often the players accidentally knocked each other to the floor trying to block shots, and at one point a Colonel Gray player was injured badly enough he had to be carried off the court.
But the two teams clearly had a companionship founded in sportsmanship.
One of the Raiders, Stephen Seviour, said both teams play together on the convention fields when they’re not competing.
“The other team played really well. They played hard. So we hate them during the season, then we go back with them at the end of the summer,” he laughed.
Seviour said this game was particularly important to him as it is his last year on the team.
“It feels great, to win back-to-back. I’m in Grade 12, so again, it feels wonderful to win.”
Raiders coach Ryan Keliher said it was an amazing night.
“The guys worked so hard all year, we’ve worked so hard all year. This is the game that we play for, so this is as happy as we’re going to be.”
Keliher said he was glad they were able to pull the victory back in the second half.
“It’s a fabulous atmosphere for high school kids to play in. It gives us awesome support.”
It was awesome to him in particular because the night was one of the biggest for basketball in P.E.I., he said.
“I’m just proud of the guys, the way they played and fought. They played well in the second half and were able to win back-to-back championships.”
And the Rural Raiders’ fans were quite a sight to see themselves, with bold white and red war paint all over their faces, arms, and shirts.
One fan even wore a mascot costume, and several wielded vuvuzelas: team spirit was strong on the court and in the stands for the team that night.