We have gone final here on Day 1 of the B.C. senior boys 2022 high school basketball championships.
The Single-A draw is complete.
All eight game reports are below, but first, here’s Thursday’s Field House schedule of championship-round games.
TOP HALF DRAW
7 p.m. — No. 1 Unity Christian vs. No. 8 Bulkley Valley Christian
8:45 p.m. — No. 4 Fernie vs. No. 5 Kelowna Christian
BOTTOM HALF DRAW
3:30 p.m. — No. 3 Cedars Christian vs. No. 11 Aberdeen Hall
5:15 p.m. — No. 2 Glenlyon Norfolk vs. No. 10 Barriere
And remember, you home to access everything is VarsityLetters.ca
Here’s this tier’s game reports:
ALL STORIES BY GARY AHUJA
Unity Christian Flames 85 Brookes Westshore Gryphons 45
Maybe it was the 8:30 a.m. tip-off time, or perhaps it was nerves, but whatever the case, head coach Dave Bron knew his team was capable of more.
The top-seed – and 2020 champions – from Chilliwack’s Unity Christian were up by 11 at the half against the No. 16 Brookes Westshore Gryphons of Victoria in game one of the 1A Tournament.
“We were a little sloppy,” admitted Bron following the final whistle of his team’s commanding 85-45 victory. “I gave them a little wake-up speech in no uncertain terms at halftime and we responded really well in the third quarter. The third quarter has been our best quarter.”
Unity Christian came out and scored 25 points over the next 10 minutes, turning their 11-point lead into a 25-point advantage.
“It was nice to get the win. It was a great break-in game, a great icebreaker,” Bron said.
“We survived first round and now we focus on second round. I honestly think our boys are going to play much better.”
Grade 10 guard Jay Smiens led all scorers with 26 points, 15 of which came from beyond the arc with 17 of the points coming in the first half for Unity Christian. While Smiens led the way for the first 20 minutes, it was Grade 12 guard Levi Van Egdom leading the way after the break as he scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half.
For the Rebels – who are making their first-ever appearance at the 1A Tournament, it was Grade 11 guard Alex Buhr leading his team with 13 points while Grade 12 forward Jack Xu chipped in with 11.
Bulkley Valley Royals 89 Nanaimo Christian Trail Blazers 65
Each team was led by their big two – Bulkley Valley’s Paul Jada (20 points) and David Loki (40 points) combined for 60 points while Nanaimo Christian’s Jackson Tonsi (35 points) and Calvin Vanderkooi (24 points) countered with 59 – but it was the Smithers squad using their superior depth to pull away in the second half as the Bulkley Valley Royals defeated the Nanaimo Christian Trail Blazers 89-65 in the eight/nine matchup.
“Our best player sometimes gets all the attention … and when they put the box-and-one on us, we were kind of able to score at will four-on-four,” explained Bulkley Valley coach James Horner, whose team returned to provincials for the first time since 2018. “We were happy with our best guy not to touch it and that’s when we went on our good run.
“It is really nice as a small school to have depth and guys that just want to compete.”
Aside from their dynamic guard duo of David Loki and Paul Jada (who are in Grade 10 and 11, respectively), six other Royals players found the scoresheet, led by a dozen points from Grade 12 forward David Hofsink.
It was just a two-point game at the half with the Royals holding a slim 38-36 lead heading into the locker room.
“Our guys just came out with a lot of energy. We really focused on rebounds and turnovers, that’s what we figured the difference would be and when it came down to it, our guys down low outrebounded and they just worked so hard that second half,” Horner said. “I think it was even talent wise, it just came down to our guys working their butts off, so really proud of them.”
The Trail Blazers were making just their second-ever appearance at the 1A Tournament, last attending in 2019. And just like the Royals were led by a pair of players who still have eligibility remaining, so too are the Trail Blazers as Vanderkooi is a six-eight-forward in Grade 11 while Tonsi is a Grade 10, six-foot-one guard.
Tonsi enters provincials averaging 43 points per game and he led the Trail Blazers with 35 in the opening round, 26 of which came in the second and third quarters.
Fernie Falcons 93 Pemberton Red Devils 45
The last time the Fernie Falcons were competing at Langley Events Centre, it was 2020 and the Kootenay school delivered its best-ever finish, placing fourth at the 1A Tournament. The Falcons made their 2022 LEC debut on Wednesday – ranked fourth among the 16 teams – downing the Pemberton Red Devils 93-48.
“It was good to be back here. The kids were excited, they came out and played their game,” said Fernie coach AJ Kennedy.
The scariest thing about a team which nearly hit the century mark? It took them a while to warm up.
“We moved the ball really well on offence. Shooting in these kinds of gyms is different for us because we don’t play in these kinds of gyms too often,” Kennedy explained. “We got inside and worked our way out.”
The Falcons raced out to a 15-3 lead and led by double digits the rest of the way, scoring 21 or more points in each quarter of their opening round rout of a Pemberton squad which came in as the second-place team out of the Vancouver Sea-to-Sky zone.
“It is always huge to be on that top eight side, (although) it is not exactly easy work,” Kennedy said.
The coach was happy – for the most part – with his team’s defensive intensity, although the number of fouls they committed is something he knows they must clean up.
Fernie was able to use their entire roster as 10 players scored at least one basket with Grade 11 forward Bronson Impey scoring 18 points (all in the first three quarters) while Grade 11 guard Jaedon Chorostecki struck for 12 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter alone.
Pemberton Grade 12 guard Oliver Richman led all scorers with 25 points.
Kelowna Christian Knights 68, Fort. St. James Falcons 51
Another year, another spot in the top eight for the perennial powerhouse Kelowna Christian Knights.
Making their 17th appearance at the 1A Tournament, the Knights won their opening round game to guarantee themselves a top-eight finish. Of course, the fifth-seeded Knights have loftier goals as no program has won more than Kelowna Christian’s 6 1A titles.
The Knights defeated the Fort St. James Falcons 68-51 to open their tournament.
It was the Knights first game in nearly two weeks, and the rust was evident, said coach Jamie Boreham.
“We had some time off, so it was good to get out here,” he said. “Slow start for sure, but we got better as the game went on.”
The teams were tied at 12 in the first quarter before Kelowna Christian took the lead for good with an 8-0 run. By the half, the advantage was up to 13 points.
“I think we tried to break the backboard today with some shots, but we started to figure it out, started to find a bit of rhythm on offence, and our defence picked up in the second half which kind of carried the game for us,” Boreham said.
Kelowna Christian carries just two Grade 12s, both of whom were on the roster in 2020 when the team won bronze, the team’s ninth medal (six gold, two silver and one bronze) in 16 previous trips to provincials. They also have one 2A gold medal on their resume.
“We talked about it and no matter how much you prepare for provincials, when you haven’t been here as a team, they don’t have that ‘I’ve been here before’ mentality,” Boreham said. “Winning the first one gets those nerves out of your system.”
In Wednesday’s opener, Jack Madden led the offence with 19 points, 17 of which came in the first half. He also had a trio of three-pointers. Dom Platten, Maddy Sader and Sam Calderwood each scored 11. Caiden Olund led the Falcons with 20 points.
Aberdeen Hall Gryphons 80 King David Lions 76
The pre-game message was simple: “We just told the boys to enjoy every step and play with intensity and let the chips fall wherever they fall,” explained coach Michael Hooper.
And where the chips fell were an 80-76 upset victory for Hooper’s Aberdeen Hall Gryphons, the No. 11 seed from Kelowna, against Vancouver’s King David Lions, the No. 6 seed.
The Gryphons were making their first-ever appearance at the 1A Tournament.
“For us, getting here was huge. We have been close but there is a lot of good basketball in the Okanagan and it is tough to get out of there in the past few years,” he said about his squad which finished third in the Thompson-Okanagan zone.
“This is seven years of coaching and not getting to the tournament, so it felt really good to get here,” Hooper said. “(And to win), this is the icing on the cake. I think we are better than our seeding and now we can show that.”
Aberdeen Hall scored eight of the first 10 points before the Lions roared back to make it a two-point game at the half, 31-29 for the Gryphons.
They extended the lead to nine after three quarters and were up 11 late in the fourth before King David trimmed the deficit down to four.
“They played our brand of basketball: moved the ball well and played with some confidence. We are pretty athletic, move the ball up and down the court and play hard ‘D’,” Hooper said about his squad.
Liam Ozechowski led the Grpyhons with 21 points while Raajin Hoonjan had 15 and Cole Steele scored 14. For King David, Arel Steen scored 25 while Jesse Millman had 16 and Ari Altow chipped in with 14.’
Cedars Christian Eagles 90 Khalsa School Lions 44
It all starts with the defence for the Cedars Christian Eagles.
“It is a war of attrition. We know if a team stays with us, it is OK, we are going to wear them down eventually,” said Eagles coach Jeff Ludditt. “These guys (Khalsa School) battled hard, but I think in the end, if we put enough pressure on them for a long period of time, they’ll usually bend.”
Prince George’s Cedars Christian entered the 1A Tournament as the No. 3 seed while their Surrey opponent came in as the No. 14. But for the first quarter, the Lions hung tough, trailing by just five after 1o minutes.
“Our defence runs us; we feed off that, we feed off steals and we have some good shooters,” Ludditt said.
After allowing 17 points that first quarter, the Eagles clamped down defensively, surrendering just 11 points in the second quarter and then a combined 16 in the second half. And the offence awoke, scoring 27 points in each of the second and third quarters to put the game out of reach.
This is Cedars Christian’s seventh appearance at the 1A Tournament and the third time they have advanced to the championship round as they look to improve on their best-ever finish of seventh place.
“It’s a step. You don’t know who you are playing when you get here; everybody is in that boat in a sense. We just wanted to come play our game that we have been playing all season,” Ludditt said. “We feel we have put together a good season, a solid record.”
Leading the way in Wednesday’s victory was Grade 12 guard Tony Kibonge – who was named Player of the Game following a 23-point performance. All but three of those came in the first half. Seth Hulka, another Grade 12 guard, added 15.
The Lions were led by 14 points from Arman Johal and a dozen from Dilbaag Dhillon.
Barriere Cougars 68 Meadowridge Gryphons 66
With just 5.4 seconds left to play and trailing by a single point, the Barriere Cougars had the ball on the Meadowridge Gryphons baseline. Coming out of a timeout, the play designed called for a quick entry inside for a lay-up. But with the Gryphons defending the interior, Cougars’ in-bounder Brayden York went to plan B.
“I saw (Brayden) and he was looking and looking, and we finally made eye contact and he passed it to me and I just shot it,” explained Spencer Schilling, whose three-pointer from the corner with 3.6 seconds left found nothing but net to give Barriere the 68-66 lead.
The Gryphons would get their own look for a game-winning shot, but came up short.
“It was such a surreal moment; I have so much adrenaline right now. I am shaking,” Schilling said. “This tops it 100 per cent. I have never made a shot like this before.”
Head coach Travis Repka admitted that the three-point shot was Plan B.
“All the credit to our in-bounder for not forcing it and finding the open guy,” he said.
The game was the most competitive among the first seven 1A Tournament games as five of those were won by double digits.
No. 7 Meadowridge led for the majority of the first half before the Cougars battled back to take a seven-point lead early in the fourth quarter. The teams were tied at 66 with two minutes to play when the Gryphons used their size advantage on the offensive end to earn themselves a few extra possessions and go ahead 66-63. But the Cougars clawed back and scored the final five points to earn the win.
“These guys make me so proud; they keep battling and never quit. We are a smaller team – our biggest guy is our point guard and (Meadowridge) have way more size but we just found a way to grit it out,” Repka said.
“We are full Ted Lasso with ‘Believe’, that is our mantra: B-Town Believes,” he said, proudly showing off the T-shirts he and the coaching staff were wearing. “(Barriere) is just a town of 2,000 people who love basketball.
“It always feels good to take down a higher seed first game, especially when you are a little public school and you have to go against these bigger Single-A private schools.”
Tanner Schilling led the Cougars with 30 points while Ryan DeFelice added 18. Spencer Schilling finished with 11, with his game-winner his only points of the second half. DeFelice is in Grade 11 while the Schilling cousins are in Grade 12 and were on the Barriere team which came fifth in 2020.
Spencer Schilling said the goal is to improve on that fifth-place finish, something which is still possible thanks to their opening round win. He also said the team can use those experiences from two years ago to their advantage.
“Knowing the energy, knowing the atmosphere and knowing what the other teams are going to bring. This is the best of the best in Single A,” he said.
Grade 10 guard Arjun Hehar led Meadowridge with 29 points.
Glenlyon Norfolk Grpyhons 92 Northside Christian North Stars 32
No team has qualified for more 1A Provincial Tournaments than the Glenlyon Norfolk Gryphons and for a 15th time in 22 trips to the Big Dance, the Victoria school finds itself once again on the winner’s side of the draw.
The Gryphons rode a 25-point game from Mason Carison to a 92-32 victory over Vanderhoof’s Northside Christian Northstars.
“He does a lot of things out there. He takes up space on the inside, he catches the ball, he is verbal with the guys … he’s a stud for us,” said coach Harvey Thorau about his six-foot-eight, Grade 11 centre who was named Player of the Game.
Jacob Hier also chipped in with 13 while Callum Shillington had a dozen points for Glenylon Norfolk while Marek Durupt led the Northstars with 15 points.
As for the game, Thorau said this was just the first step.
“Getting on the championship side is job one. There are no easy games on the right side and we are looking forward to the challenge,” he said. “Their compete level was up there; they were moving the ball better. It is all about finishing around the rim and the little things. We keep on talking about that all season: do all the little things and the big things will be taken care of.”
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