Chilliwack’s Ben Hagkull and Keaton MacEachern celebrated a historic national championship win Saturday, helping Team B.C. to a gold medal win at the Canada Winter Games. Hagkull had six points in a 79-32 triumph over Alberta as Team B.C. finished first for the first time ever at the national sporting event.
Since wheelchair basketball debuted at the Canada Winter Games in 1995, B.C. has earned two silver medals (1995 and 2003) and one bronze (1999).
“I’ve been in sport my whole life, and this is the most special moment I’ve ever had,” said B.C.’s head coach, Simon Cass. “It’s an incredible group of kids. They’ve worked incredibly hard. Empty gyms, long days – working and just doing it together. We did it as a team, and it’s great to see. It culminated with our best performance of the last eight years in the biggest game.
“Myself and the rest of the coaching staff could not be more proud.”
The tournament was held in Charlottetown, PE. and Hagkull’s crew went a perfect 5-0. They opened Feb. 20 with a 66-26 win over Manitoba followed by a 72-36 swatting of Ontario and a 69-43 victory over Alberta. Their perfect record in preliminary-round play earned them a bye to the semi-final where they took out Manitoba by a 70-41 count. That was followed by the gold-medal win.
Hagkull, 24, was the 16th highest scorer in the eight-team tourney with 51 total points. His best single-game total was 17 in the preliminary-round win over Alberta.
MacEachern, 18, was one of the young guns on the team and was used sparingly.
The Canada Winter Games brought together 3,600 athletes, managers, and coaches, across 20 different sports. See 2023canadagames.ca for more info.
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