RICHMOND — Historic.
Even though it’s the classification with the least amount of lineage in the annals of B.C. High School Boys Basketball Association history, the three-season-old Triple A tier made a massive statement at Saturday’s provincial all-star weekend at R.C. Palmer Secondary.
Looking like a team which could get blown out by their much taller and deeper credentialed Quad A foes, the Triple As got off to a hot start, withstood a furious second-half run and emerged 103-98 winners in a game which makes the biggest statement yet, on so many different levels, for the parity in our provincial game.
“I’ve talked to a few coaches already and we all said ‘Hey, maybe some of those kids that are trying to run away to 4A will stick around now,’” said Steve Twele, the Rick Hansen head coach who guided the Triple As on Saturday.
For the start of the 2014-15 season, the BCHSBBA added a fourth tier to its structure.
Quad A became the tier for the province’s biggest schools. And while Single A and Double A remained the two smallest, Triple A went from being formerly the largest to second biggest.
It consists of the schools which had formerly been playing at the highest tier and also some from the top end of Double A.
On Saturday, as it wrapped up its fourth season, with Surrey’s Fleetwood Park, Burnaby’s St. Thomas More, Surrey’s Southridge Storm and Abbotsford Rick Hansen Hurricanes as its first four champs, Triple A enjoyed its brightest moment yet.
“I am really proud because this is something we have worked a long time towards,” said BCHSBBA president Paul Eberhardt, “to raise the profile and get all of our kids more exposure.
“I think it says it all right here,” he continued of the game’s result, one in which the Triples stormed out to a 25-8 lead before the game was six minutes old on a trey by STM’s UBC-bound Cam Morris. “We had one of the best lineups of 4A players we have seen and the 3A’s went out and beat them. And they did because they are talented, too.”
If you couldn’t say that on a player-by-player comparison through the extent of both lineups, there was still no doubting the Triple A team came to play with more purpose and joy, and over the course of four quarters, provided continual reminders of just how many good players there are in this province.
For example, when Windsor’s Joseph Peterson-Hannon knocked down the fourth of his five triples on the night to open the second half, the 3A led the 4A by its largest margin of the game at 26 points (59-33).
Never heard of him?
He got very favourable reports throughout his Howe Sound season, but in an environment Saturday where he was both guarding and playing against the likes of Kitsilano’s Luka Lizdek, Walnut Grove’s Ty Rowell and Kenan Hadzovic, he was in no way out of his league.
In fact he was so good that he scored a co-team-high 19 points and was in the MVP discussion until the very end.
(Full game scoring summary at bottom).
And how about Anders Cederberg of the Nanaimo District Islanders?
The 6-foot-6 forward who skipped the Vancouver Island’s own all-star festivities to come to Richmond, was the player most responsible for the Triples’ early surge.
The Vancouver Island University-bound Cederberg was at his catch-and-shoot best over the first 4:21 of play Saturday, knocking down three triples and staking his team out to a 20-6 lead.
The Quads, behind the ice-veined exploits of Rowell, made their big push in the latter stages of the fourth quarter.
Trailing by 13 at 87-74 after a bucket from Abbotsford-Rick Hansen point guard Josh Dhillon with 6:27 left, the Quads strung together an 11-3 run powered by Rowell, who finished with a game-high 28 points.
Yet despite getting to within 90-85 with 4:40 left, it was the play of Dhillon, the Triple A B.C. championship MVP, who would scored 13 fourth-quarter points on his way to being selected the all-star game’s MVP.
“Everybody was talking about how the 4A was going to beat the 3A and we used that as motivation, hit some shots and played some defence,” said Dhillon, who agreed that the potential was there for the 4A to blow out the 3A.
“We thought that as well, but our early start helped us. It gave us confidence that we could compete and we didn’t take our foot off the gas the rest of the way.”
The victory capped a dream season for both Dhillon, his teammate Aman Dhillon (no relation) who earlier won the B.C. Three-Point contest, and Twele.
Said Josh Dhillon: “Winning the MVP here after winning it at provincials feels awesome. It feels like the provincials all over again.”
Added Twele of a campaign which included Fraser Valley and B.C. Triple A championship titles as well as a historic win by his all-star team: “It’s kind of scary because I am at the beginning of my career and I’m not quite sure, but I think it will be pretty hard to top this. I could be at it for quite a while.”
TRIPLE A (103)
Josh Dhillon 19, Abdul Bangura 3, Cameron Morris 16, Anders Cederberg 17, Nathan Bromige 9, Aman Dhillon 5, Quin Adam 4, Joseph Peterson-Hannon 19, Tristan Coumont 11.
QUAD A (98)
Ty Rowell 28, Brian Wallack 10, Ken Hadzovic 10, Mason Bourcier 10, Sam Bailey 9, Andrew Goertzen 10, Jake Cowley 6, Jacob Van Santen 4, Luka Lizdek 11.
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