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Falcons win third straight basketball crown

Austin Burchat leads the way for St. Ignatius with a game-high 21 points.
Austin Burchat
Falcons centre Austin Burchat tries to muscle past Churchill's Robinson Bates in the varsity boys basketball championship game on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017 (Leith Dunick,

THUNDER BAY -- It’s a three-peat for the St. Ignatius Falcons.

Powered by Austin Burchat’s 21-point effort and 16 points by Jared Kreiner, the Falcons rolled out to a 26-point lead at halftime and coasted Thursday night to an 81-55 triumph over the Sir Winston Churchill Trojans, capturing their third straight varsity boys’ basketball championship – the first to win three straight since Hammarskjold between 2005 and 2007.

The towering Burchat, just 16 and with at least one more season to go at the high school level, said it all came down preparation.

“It’s because we put in the effort in practice. Our coaches set it all up so we had all the plays to run. It was all repetition. As long as we put in the work day after day – and we got the win,” Burchat said.

“It feels pretty good. It’s an amazing feeling.”

Burchat scored eight of the Falcons points in the opening quarter, as St. Ignatius held the Trojans off the board for the first six minutes and opened a 14-2 lead.

While his scoring tapered off – thank s to an extended rest, it set the tone for an equally dominant second quarter for the Falcons, who were playing with home-court advantage.

“It gets the momentum of the other players going and it really gives us a boost.”

Kreiner scored eight of his points in the second, then capped his effort with three-pointers in each of the third and fourth quarters.

It was a great team win, said Kreiner, son of Lakehead Thunderwolves women’s basketball coach Jon Kreiner.

“It feels amazing. Three victories in a row, it feels great,” he said. “We have a great organization, a great coaching staff and our players just work together to get it done. It’s all about the team effort, everybody moving the ball and we were getting great shots.”

The Trojans hung tough with their opponent in the second half, but never once got in striking distance as the Falcons opened up a lead as big as 33 points at one point in the third.

The closest they would get was 21 back on a two-point bucket late in the fourth by Robinson Bates, whose 14 points were second on the Trojans to the 20 put up by Connor Byney, 18 of which came in the second half.

St. Ignatius coach Matt Erdman called it a good finish to a Superior Secondary Schools Athletic Association campaign that saw them run them run the regular-season table with a 10-0 record.

“It’s the first championship for this team, so it’s different than all the other years,” Erdman said. “These guys had a goal set out at the start of the year. They wanted to do something special, and I think they did a great job to wrap up the season here tonight at home.”

The Falcons advance to the NWOSSA championship, scheduled for next Friday in Thunder Bay.