Trojans find success playing by the books

The Trojans Men’s basketball team had major success last weekend, winning the first gold medal for SAIT basketball since the year 2000.

The game ended with an 85-65 score for the Trojans over the Lethbridge Huskies, a team that closely rivals SAIT’s basketball statistics this year.

John Smith Jr., is a first-year guard with the Trojans.

The student athlete displayed consistency throughout the playoffs, smashing his 32-point tournament average by upping it in the final game to 40 points, earning him the title of tournament MVP.

“I just wanted to come out and play my game, just like I do when I’m at every game or any event,” Smith said.

“When we stick to the format, we’re good.”

On top of being the top scorer on his team, he is also fifth in scoring according to the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference leaders board.

Smith has been playing basketball ever since he sunk his first shot at five years old in his hometown of Lacy, Wash.

“I remember one of my neighbours asking me who Michael Jordan was–he introduced me to basketball and I got hooked on it,” Smith said.

The business student said that he can attribute his success to his ability to stay confident and level-headed whenever panic starts to rise on the court.

“When I get into that situation, I think about how many times I’ve been there before.

“Earlier this year we were down (by) 30 to St Mary’s, and everyone was kind of panicking, at half time the coaches were freaking out, I just thought, calmly, we’re not going to lose this game, were not going to lose this game.”

The 6’2 guard made it clear that his own success is also a reflection of the team’s ability to communicate on and off the court.

“Murphy Beya played third position last year and moved to fourth this year, and he’s been doing amazing with that switch.

“Taner Parington takes care of everything down low, so I can continue to do the cool stuff on the outside,” he said.

The gold medal is a huge sign of success and progress for the Trojans since the last ACAC conference medal won by the team was a bronze in 2010.

“We started off saying we were going to nationals but I don’t think anyone believed us, because the last couple years haven’t been that great,” he said.

The Seattle native also noted  that the number of player injuries held the team back during the regular season.

“With so many injuries, it’s definitely affected us. I got injured at one point, but near the end of the season we really started to gel and get the injuries under control.”

Smith said the most challenging game in the playoff series was the second game, where the team came out with a rocky start against Red Deer.

“We were down against Red deer by 14, and we managed to get it down to eight by the half. When we were at eight we knew we could turn it around,” he said.

Smith was awarded most valuable player of the tournament, which was a bonus to winning the championship with his teammates.

“Being MVP was cool, but it felt better for us all to be the champs. The individual accolades don’t mean much without the team,” Smith said.

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