Sports

Experience may be x-factor at Dolphin Classic

Breanne Watson will again lead the Border Patrol at the Dolphin Classic which tips off Friday. - Don Fennell photo
Breanne Watson will again lead the Border Patrol at the Dolphin Classic which tips off Friday.
— image credit: Don Fennell photo

Never doubt experience.

That’s a message upstarts at the 27th Dolphin Basketball Classic might be wise to adhere to, with both the X-Falcons and Border Patrol poised to retain their titles at the annual four-on-four playground event which tips off Friday afternoon at Richmond’s Thompson Community Centre.

Led by the seemingly-ageless Randy Nohr at point guard, the X-Falcons are coming off a second-straight men’s championship win over the Athelite—last year by a score of 80-65. Now in his mid-30s, the much-decorated Nohr has led the X-Falcons to the final each of the last five years during which he’s earned three MVP honours. The X-Falcons also won the men’s title in 2007 and 2008 before bowing to Seattle’s Home Team in 2009.

Border Patrol, meanwhile, is captained by Richmond’s own Breanne Watson who has led her squad to back-to-back women’s titles since the division debuted in 2010. A graduate of the University of Washington Huskies, Watson, 27, and several of her hoop friends recently won their third consecutive Elite Division championship at Spokane Hoopfest, the largest three-on-three tournament in the world.

Watson earned MVP honours for the second year in a row competing against former stalwarts from such U.S. schools as Stanford. One of her teammates at Hoopfest was Lindsey Wilson, the former Iowa State star who is also planning a return to this weekend’s Dolphin Classic.

“It’s hard to compare the two events, since three-on-three is a half-court game,” says Watson. “But every year Dolphin gets more and more competitive. We had a tight final game against the UBC alum last year and I expect them to have a really good team again. The whole goal is to show how competitive women can play and I think every year it gets better. It’s a great opportunity to promote the women’s game and show it off and there’s no better place because it’s such a social environment. I think a lot of people walk away impressed.”

Besides Watson and Wilson, Border Patrol will feature former University of Washington Huskie Sara Mosiman and ex-Seattle Pacific players Daesha Henderson and Libby Magnuson. They’re scheduled to play their first game at the three-day Dolphin Classic against the Birds Friday at 7 p.m.

The X-Falcons, slated to play their first game versus SFU Friday at 8 p.m., epitomize savvy. And no one epitomizes it more than Nohr. Taking nothing away from his athleticism, his greatest strength is his basketball I.Q., says Bruce Watson, one of the organizers of the Dolphin Classic.

“He knows how to lead a team (to the point of being blunt if necessary),” says Bruce, who is not related to Breanne. “He’s got a lot of heart and grit.”

Nohr is representative of the kind of talent attracted to the Dolphin Classic. After leading his Aldergrove high school team to  back-to-back provincial AA titles in 1994 and 1995, he continued his mastery at the collegiate level by powering Langara Falcons to Canadian championships in 1998 and 1999 during which he was selected collegiate player of the year. He played a key role in St. Francis Xavier winning university titles in 2000 and 20001 and won a Danish Cup in 2004 while playing in Europe. His three MVP awards at the Dolphin Classic are a tournament record.

While the X-Falcons will be tough to knock off their pedestal, a team from Seattle seems poised to try. The Champs, set to tip-off against the BC Ballers Friday at 7 p.m., features some of the wealth of young basketball talent that has made Seattle one of the biggest hoop hotbeds in the U.S. And the leader of the group, Shan Nichol, is better known as a former quarterback-turned-tight end at the University of Arizona.

“There’s a lot of players from Seattle in the NBA right now and more coming,” says Bruce Watson. “There’s so much depth and basketball is really popular there. There are great programs and the kids are getting great coaching and competition. Even Louisville, of all places, has a strong connection to the Seattle scene.”

 

HIGHLIGHTS

Dolphin Classic 2012

•27th edition of annual four-on-four playground hoops tournament to be held from Friday, July 27 to Sunday, July 29 at Thompson community centre, 5151 Granville Ave.

 

•Games in both the men’s and women’s divisions begin Friday at 5 p.m., continuing Saturday from 9 a.m. through 8 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. through 7:30 p.m. The women’s final is scheduled for 5 p.m., followed by the always-popular three-point and slam dunk contests at 6 p.m. The men’s final is set to tip off at 7:30 p.m.

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