We have gone final here on Day 1 of the B.C. senior boys 2022 high school basketball championships.
The Triple-A draw is complete.
All eight game reports are below, but first, here’s Thursday’s Centre Court schedule of championship-round games.
TOP HALF DRAW
7 p.m. — No. 1 St. Pat’s vs. No. 9 Princess Margaret
8:45 p.m. — No. 4 R.A. MacNeill vs. No. 12 MEI
BOTTOM HALF DRAW
3:30 p.m. — No. 3 Duchess Park vs. No. 6 Byrne Creek
5:15 p.m. — No. 2 Elgin Park vs. No. 10 St. Thomas More
And remember, you home to access everything is VarsityLetters.ca
Here’s this tier’s game reports:
ALL STORIES BY DAN KINVIG (Special to Varsity Letters)
ST. PATRICK’S 103 L.V. ROGERS 49
LANGLEY — The pressure that the St. Patrick Celtics inflict upon the opposition is withering at the best of times.
At 8:30 in the morning – the proverbial Egg McMuffin game at the 3A provincial championship – it seems like particularly cruel and unusual punishment.
The top-seeded Celtics were at their ball-hawking best in their opener vs. the L.V. Rogers Bombers of Nelson on Wednesday, as larcenous defence ignited a lightning-quick fast-breaking offence on the way to a 103-49 victory.
“To be honest, we’ve always been a run-and-gun team,” St. Patrick Grade 11 point guard Kaden Carrion said afterward. “We’re not as tall as other teams, so we have to use our speed to our advantage. We just run and gun, get easy layups, get back on defence – same thing over and over again.”
Lather, rinse, repeat.
The equation proved unsolvable on Wednesday – the Celtics raced out to a 24-4 advantage to open the game, led 55-26 at the half, and maintained firm control the rest of the way.
Irish Coquia racked up a game-high 26 points and snared five steals for St. Patrick, and Carrion picked up player of the game honours after dishing out 12 assists to go with seven points, nine rebounds and two steals. Jornel Ursua went 4-for-8 from beyond the arc on his way to a 16-point outing, and Joey Panghulan (11 points) and Josh Bahena (10) also scored in double figures.
Lucas Driedger paced the Bombers with 12 points, Samuel Orasuk posted 11 points and seven rebounds, and Kailash Sanjivi counted a pair of three-pointers among his eight points.
St. Patrick has had a great deal of historic success at the Single A level, winning B.C. titles in 1990, 1995 and 2010, and this current group won the provincial junior crown in 2020. A 3A senior championship would be an unprecedented feat for the Celtics, though, and Carrion said his squad draws inspiration from their trio of Grade 12 athletes – Ursua, Bahena and Kyle Santa Juana.
“We’ve been playing with these three seniors since we were in Grade 5, and we have this connection that we’ve built,” Carrion explained. “We’re in Grade 11 now – in their senior year, it would just be a blessing to win them a banner to end off their high school career.”
So far, so good for the Celtics, who move on to face the G.W. Graham-Princess Margaret winner in the quarter-finals at 7 p.m. Thursday.
PRINCESS MARGARET 63, G.W. GRAHAM 60
An irresistible storyline and an incredible atmosphere.
As a basketball fan, what more could you ask for?
In one corner, you had the G.W. Graham Grizzlies of Chilliwack – a program that’s made 13 B.C. championship appearances in the past 15 years, and won the 3A title in 2020, the last time it was contested.
In the other corner were the Princess Margaret Lions of Surrey – a team making its first provincial appearance since 1977, a span of 45 years.
And in the stands, two leather-lunged fan sections trying to one-up each other with tub-thumping and chants.
Despite their Cinderella status, the Lions showed few signs of stage fright, topping the Grizzlies 63-60 in Wednesday’s opening round to ensure the 3A tier will crown a new champion.
“I was happy for the kids to get to experience something like this, with fans being allowed back in the building,” Princess Margaret head coach Karmin Dhaliwal enthused afterward. “This will be a memory that will last for the rest of their lives.
“My guys understand their goals, they understand the bigger picture, they put their egos aside, and they just compete and play hard, man. That’s all I can ask for.”
There was a moment, late in the second quarter, where it became clear that these Lions were not your typical wide-eyed provincial rookies.
Princess Margaret senior guard Abdullahi Noor had come up empty on a three-point attempt from the right wing and was serenaded with an “AIR BALLLLLLL” chant by the Grizzlies’ student section. But just a couple possessions later, finding himself in nearly the exact same spot on the floor in transition, Noor pulled up, pulled the trigger, and swished it. As he ran back down the court, he pointed over at the Grizzlies’ fans, a broad smile on his face, as if to say, “We’re not going anywhere!”
Indeed, at the half, it was the Lions with a 32-28 lead.
The Surrey school began to create some separation, surging ahead 42-33, but the Grizzlies clawed their way back with a 7-0 run, and were within 48-43 to start the fourth.
The Lions would extend the lead to 11, but G.W. Graham rallied and closed to within 61-58 after a pair of Braeden Macdonald free throws with less than two minutes left in regulation. Then, Bardia Shokouhi came up with a steal and raced the other way for the breakaway layup, cutting the deficit to 61-60 with 48 seconds remaining.
Jal Gatluk, who went on to earn player of the game honours, came up with his biggest play of the game to keep the Lions in front – he came up with an offensive rebound off a missed free throw and laid it back in with 12 seconds left to give his team a three-point margin.
The Grizzlies had a pair of looks to send it to OT, but Shokouhi’s three-point attempt rimmed out. After a jump ball gave Graham the ball back with 1.1 seconds left, Macdonald’s triple try from the top of the arc was blocked by PM’s Abdullah Ahmad to set off the celebration.
Ahmad had gone to the bench in the second quarter after a collision with Shokouhi, and his head coach called it a
“He hurt his knee, but he warmed up and was able to get through it, and he made the game-winning block,” Dhaliwal marveled. “An incredible effort, and a resilient group of boys. I would say to them, ‘You’ve dealt with real adversity – this is easy.’”
Gatluk had a huge double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds, dynamic point guard Ega Sembele finished with 14 points and three steals, and Ahmad and Noor scored 10 points apiece for PM.
Macdonald had a strong showing with a game-high 20 points on 8-of-11 from the field, Shokouhi stuffed the stat sheet with 18 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, and Caden Switzer added 11 points for the Grizzlies.
“We’ve been shooting it at about 45 per cent from the three-point line, but went stone-cold today, and that was mainly because of the pressure that PM was putting on,” Graham head coach Jake Mouritzen said, tipping his cap to the Lions’ 1-3-1 zone defence.
“Five weeks ago, if you’d asked me, I wasn’t sure we were going to get here,” he added. “We went on a run and started playing well at the right time, just came up a tiny bit short today.
“I kept telling our guys there was no pressure, but they felt a lot of pressure because we were defending. Only two of those guys played (in 2020) – they were all in Grade 10 and 9. I’m super-proud of them. You can’t convince a 17-year-old brain, though, that it’s going to be OK. We’re going to focus on family and team, and getting three wins.”
Mourtizen noted Princess Margaret’s poise in their long-awaited return to the B.C.’s.
“They were coached well, and I think they enjoyed the moment,” he said “I think that’s our job as coaches, to make sure the kids realize that, especially in the world today. That last hour and a half is magical compared to all the other things going on in the world. It’s about making sure we’re grateful for the opportunities. Hats off to PM. They came out and played hard, and they had a plan.”
A.R. MACNEILL 90, SIR CHARLES TUPPER 83 (OT)
The Tupper Tigers took their best shot at an upset, but the A.R. MacNeill Ravens survived in dramatic fashion on Day 1 of the provincial 3A tourney.
In an absolute thriller at Centre Court, the No. 4-seeded Ravens and the No. 13 Tigers battled down to the wire and beyond, with the Richmond squad finally gaining some separation in overtime and pulling out a 90-83 victory.
MacNeill’s Josh Mayan and Tupper’s Finlay Chow-White – both Grade 11s – engaged in an incredible long-distance shooting duel down the stretch. Over the fourth quarter and overtime, Mayan drained four three-pointers, while Chow-White drilled two of his own and twice drew fouls on attempts from downtown, going 3-for-3 at the free throw line each time in a memorable display of clutch shooting.
In the end, the Ravens were able to generate some breathing room in the extra session after Cam Pacheco and Mayan hit back-to-back treys. They survive and advance to face the Okanagan Mission-MEI winner in the quarter-finals Thursday.
“First and foremost, props to Tupper,” MacNeill head coach Justin Dye-Pe said afterward. “They played a phenomenal game. It went down to the wire – they’ve got a bunch of heart, they’ve got ballers on their team, and they really gave us a scare.
“In overtime, everyone stepped up. On to the next.”
Early on, the notion of overtime seemed laughable as the higher-seeded Ravens raced out to a 24-8 lead early in the second quarter behind seven points apiece from Mayan and Everett Swaim. The Tigers, though, responded with a 14-0 surge, with senior guard Oscar Hill giving his team a spark at both ends of the floor, and it was game on from there.
The Tigers took a 55-52 lead into the fourth quarter, and they would open the frame on a 6-0 surge to extend it to 61-52. But a Mayan triple ignited a lightning-quick 9-0 MacNeill run, capped by a Marco Esteban layup in traffic, to knot the score 61-61.
With Chow-White and Mayan duelling, the two teams were within a single possession down the stretch. Swaim had a huge play with just inside of a minute left in regulation, grabbing an offensive board and laying it back in plus the foul, and his free throw up MacNeill up 76-74. The Ravens came up with steals on consecutive Tupper possessions, and led 77-74 after Esteban split a pair of free throws.
Chow-White rose up for a potential game-tying trey in the dying seconds with Swaim leaping to challenge, and the MacNeill big man was whistled for catching a piece of his arm. Chow-White coolly drilled all three free throws to tie it.
The Ravens still had time, and Esteban drove to the rim, where his shot was swatted away by Hill with 0.4 seconds left. Hill’s swat was clean, but he was whistled for a foul on the body, sending Esteban to the line, but both his free throw attempts rimmed out, setting the stage for OT.
The extra session was less dramatic, as Pacheco and Mayan’s consecutive treys helped MacNeill pull away, and they maintained a two-possession lead from there.
“I’m really proud of how we fought,” Tupper head coach James Lum said. “We were down big early on, and I’m proud of how they overcame that adversity and weathered the storm. They started playing Tupper Tigers basketball, and that’s all we can ask for.
“Fin’s one of our best players – he’s a kid who loves the big moments, he hits clutch shots, and he’s been really big for us. I’m proud of the way he played.”
Mayan poured in 26 points for the Ravens, Swaim scored 23, Pachero had 21, and Esteban finished with 15.
Hill led the Tigers with 26 points, Chow-White scored 14 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, and Silas Hussey contributed 22 points for Tupper.
“I told them to keep their heads up,” said Dye-Pe, recounting what he’d said to his squad heading to OT after having a chance to win it late in the fourth. “We had an opportunity there, but the game’s not over – we have overtime and look forward to it. Play with a lot of energy and have fun. That’s my biggest take out of this whole tournament – just to have fun for our seniors.
“I’m glad our fans came out – shout-out to our athletic directors and admins who made that happen. But yeah, it was nerve-wracking. The whole gym knew it, and it makes a good game. I’m just happy we pulled that one out.”
MENNONITE EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTE 75, OKANAGAN MISSION 64
The MEI Eagles scored the first bracket-busting, double-digit seed upset in the 3A draw – and it was far from a nail-bitter.
The Eagles, seeded No. 12 going in, crushed the No. 5 Okanagan Mission Huskies on Wednesday afternoon, leading by as many as 26 points on their way to a 75-64 victory.
The Abbotsford squad emphatically punched its ticket to Thursday’s quarter-finals, where they’ll be aiming for a second straight upset as they face the No. 4 A.R. MacNeill Ravens in the quarter-finals.
MEI found its identity at the defensive end of the floor, with a focus on smothering OKM’s 6’5” sharpshooting senior forward Wil Zylyk. The Eagles managed to limit Zylyk to two points over the first three quarters as he navigated foul trouble, and while he was able to shake loose for 11 fourth-quarter points, by that time the outcome had been all but decided.
“One of the things we’ve done most of the year is play good defence,” Eagles head coach Tim Smith said afterward. “It all depends on if we shoot it well or not, and that’s true of most basketball.
“We’ve had a few games this year where we’ve seen shooters, and we try to deny them the ball and get them frustrated, make someone else beat us. There’s some games where someone else does step up. But he (Zylyk) got in foul trouble and didn’t get many good looks until the fourth quarter when he hit two threes in a row. He’s a good player, man. You don’t want him to beat you.”
The Eagles got off to a bright start, opening the game on an 8-2 run and leading 17-8 at the end of the first quarter behind eight points from Gabe Vig. Sam Brandsma and Chirag Grewal began to find traction in the paint in the second, combining for 12 points in the frame as MEI built a 37-20 lead at the break.
The Eagles continued to soar in the third quarter with Vig and Grewal leading the way. The cushion was 58-34 after Brandsman ended the third with a bucket in the paint, and the lead would peak at 60-34 early in the fourth.
The Huskies responded with a quick 8-0 surge, with Zylyk draining a pair of triples, prompting an MEI timeout. The Eagles would push the advantage beyond 20 points yet again, and while OKM would cut into the deficit in the dying minutes, it was too little, too late.
Grewal finished with 18 points and picked up player of the game honours. Brandsma scored 15 points, Vig had 14, and Raffy Guirguis added 11 for the Eagles.
Xander Hay led the way for the Thompson-Okanagan zone champs with 18 points. Ryan Dekleva (12 points) and David Mulleny (10) also chipped in offensively for the Huskies.
“We played here on Sunday in the East Valley championship (a 75-66 loss to G.W. Graham), and we got some of those nerves out of the way,” Smith noted. “As the defence kept playing hard, we were able to build that lead, right? I am super-proud of these guys – they worked hard. We’ve got lots of guys on the team, and we’re trying to re-establish some of that culture we used to have. For us, this is a big win.
“If you’d told me at the beginning of the year that we’d be here at provincials, I would have gladly taken it. To see the change over the course of the year, these kids deserve all the credit.”
BYRNE CREEK 69, GLADSTONE 56
A fantastic fourth quarter powered the Byrne Creek Bulldogs into the quarter-finals of the B.C. 3A championships, but it was a 10-minute stretch of breakthrough basketball that had been three quarters in the making.
Over the first 30 minutes of play, Vancouver’s Gladstone Gladiators more than held their own in an intense, up-tempo, end-to-end battle, taking a 47-44 lead into the final frame.
In the fourth quarter, everything changed, as Byrne Creek’s depth shone through and the Gladiators – with top scorer Jordan Hayre watching from the bench after controversially fouling out in the third – faded down the stretch.
Final score was 69-56 in favour of the Bulldogs, who outscored the Gladiators 25-9 in the fourth. They move on to face the Duchess Park-St. Michaels University School winner on Thursday at 3:30 p.m.
“In the first half we were rushing it too much, going for too many one-on-one shots,” analyzed Byrne Creek senior forward Marcell Sherwood, who scored 18 of his 26 points in the second half. “In the second half, we started to play more as a team. My teammates started to see me, I started to see them outside, and shots started landing.
“They (Gladstone) kind of had the same players out there the whole time, so we kept pushing and pushing until they tired themselves out.”
The No. 11 seed Gladiators made their case for an upset – at the half, they led 35-30. Senior guard Atif Helmy heated up in the second quarter, scoring nine points in the frame.
The No. 6 Bulldogs opened the third quarter on a 9-1 run to grab the lead, but a pair of Hayre buckets got Gladstone back on track, up 40-39.
On the ensuing possession, though, Hayre picked up his fourth personal foul. Then with three minutes left in the frame – just after the officials had assessed a warning to the Gladiators for flopping – Hayre went to the ground after firing a contested three-pointer from the left wing and was assessed a technical foul. With 13 minutes left in regulation, Gladstone’s leading scorer was out of the game.
The Gladiators maintained a three-point lead heading to the fourth, but Sherwood – who, at 6’5”, is three inches taller than anyone on the Gladstone roster and has explosive leaping ability to boot – starting running wild in the paint. He scored 10 points down the stretch, and his three-point play gave Byrne Creek a 57-52 lead. A 12-0 run later on put the game away for the Bulldogs.
“My teammates really started to notice in the fourth quarter that it was a mismatch, whoever was on me, and I just started to go off more,” Sherwood said with a smile. “First half, my shots weren’t falling – second half, everything was going in for me.”
Mamadee Jawara also excelled for the Bulldogs, draining four three-pointers on his way to 18 points and player of the game honours. Point guard Richard Moses scored 12, and McArthur Hilton had 10 points.
Hayre’s 14 points led the Gladiators, Helmy scored 13, and Michael Rollan (12) and Jason Tran (10) also scored in double digits.
DUCHESS PARK 65, ST. MICHAELS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL 47
The Duchess Park Condors served notice to the rest of the 3A field – scoring against them this week is going to be very, very difficult.
The Prince George squad showed up on Wednesday and put the St. Michaels University School Blue Jags in handcuffs, holding their opponents from Victoria to just one point in the first quarter (not a typo) and 24 through three quarters en route to a 65-47 first-round victory.
“It’s a part of our DNA,” said Duchess Park guard Cole Laing, breaking down his team’s defensive mindset. “We work at practice every single day, and our No. 1 priority is our defence. We take pride in it from the start, and we focus on each possession.
“Everybody was talking, the whole bench was loud – just a whole bunch of energy today.”
The Condors’ start could hardly have been better – senior forward Aidan Lewis drained a pair of triples to ignite the offence, and at the other end of the floor Duchess Park held the Blue Jags off the scoreboard until late in the first quarter when Alex Liu split a pair of free throws.
Laing caught fire in the second, draining a trio of triples among his 12 points in the frame as Duchess Park’s cushion was 36-11 at the half.
The Condors maintained their margin throughout the third quarter, taking a 49-24 lead into a drama-free fourth, ensuring they’d advance to face Byrne Creek in the quarter-finals on Thursday (3:30 p.m. tip-off).
Laing picked up the player of the game nod after pouring in a game-high 21 points, while Lewis and Grade 10 guard Adam Sieben posted 13 points apiece. Evgeny Baukin chipped in with eight points, and the Condors’ 6’6” forward used his wingspan extremely effectively at the defensive end as well.
Both teams used their Grade 10 athletes extensively in the second half – Sieben, Peyton Briere and Theo Clarke gave a glimpse of the Condors’ future, while Camilo Libreros, Damon Bains and Kian Colgate did the same for the Blue Jags.
Liberos turned heads, scoring 15 of his team-high 17 points after the break. Senior forward LeRoy Wang also scored in double digits for SMUS, with 15 points.
The last time Duchess Park played at the Langley Events Centre in March, they made it all the way to the 3A final as the top seed in 2020, dropping a 79-67 decision to the G.W. Graham Grizzlies. Laing, who played big minutes on that squad as a Grade 10, said he’s been thinking about that run to the title game “a lot” this week.
“I’ve been watching that video, just trying to get back to that stage,” he said.
So far, so good.
ST. THOMAS MORE 92, MARK R. ISFELD 74
As his team’s first-round clash with the Mark Isfeld Ice wore on, St. Thomas More Knights head coach Aaron Mitchell could almost see his team growing up before his eyes.
The Knights’ starting five is comprised entirely of Grade 11 athletes, and their inexperience showed early – the Vancouver Island champion Ice raced out to a quick 12-point lead behind high-scoring senior stars Kye Kotapski-Tinga and Temwa Mtawali.
Mitchell’s youthful charges were able to battle their way back into the game, grabbing a slender 36-34 lead at halftime, and they dominated after the break, pulling away for a 92-74 triumph. They’ll face the Elgin Park-Timberline winner in the quarter-finals on Thursday.
“There was a little bit of shakiness at the start,” Mitchell acknowledged with a wry chuckle afterward. “No matter how much we talked to them about it, that experience starting five Grade 11s . . . it was just about getting them used to it.
“Taking 10 (Mtawali) and 4 (Kotapski-Tinga) was the focus. It’s all we talked about, and then the game starts and we’re all hugging our man and not being in help (position). Once we realized, ‘Oh, maybe we do know what we’re doing,’ we just took it possession by possession and chipped away.”
The Ice’s backcourt stars boast the explosive athleticism to get to the rim and the shooting touch to make it rain from outside, and that’s what they were up to in the first quarter. Mtawali and Kotapski-Tinga combined for 17 points in the opening frame.
The Knights have a dynamic guard of their own in Tarrence Booker, and he went for eight points in the second quarter as STM was able to erase the early double-digit deficit and ultimately take a two-point lead at the half.
Knights senior Tristan Schianni, after going scoreless in the first half, stepped up for his squad in the third quarter, going off for 10 quick points as STM took a 61-52 lead into the fourth.
Grade 11s Timmy Gonzalez and Chris Ainsley took the Knights home from there. Gonzalez was dynamic off the dribble and from beyond the arc, while 6’5” forward Ainsley dominated in the paint and on the glass, and both players scored nine points in the final frame as STM stretched the lead to double digits and cruised down the stretch.
Kotapski-Tinga (29 points) and Mtawali (27 points) both had huge scoring nights for the No. 7-seeded Ice, but the Burnaby squad had more balance. Booker finished with a team-high 20 points for the No. 10 Knights, Ainsley had a huge double-double with 17 points and 12 boards, and Gonzalez (17) and Schianni (15) also scored in double digits.
“I’d never had the opportunity to coach any of these guys (coming into the season),” Mitchell said afterward. “We told them as a coaching staff that everyone’s getting opportunities, and we’ve probably had 15 games where we’ve had 14 guys get in – and decent minutes, not just at the end of the game. We’ve really preached that approach . . . we feel like we’re a deep team.
“Tristan’s first half was brutal, but in the third quarter, he makes a layup, hits a three, gets us going again. It’s a nice thing to have – you don’t know what you’re going to get, but when it does happen . . . you don’t have to just rely on two or three guys. It’s a nice feeling as a coach, and I hope that they feel like we trust each other. That’s the biggest thing.”
ELGIN PARK 92, TIMBERLINE 71
If you looked at the provincial 3A basketball draw and wondered what a volleyball school was doing way up at the No. 2 seed, you could be forgiven.
Surrey’s Elgin Park Secondary, after all, has fashioned an impressive reputation over the years as a volleyball powerhouse. And indeed, nine players on the senior boys basketball squad played on the volleyball team which won the silver medal at B.C. 4A provincials last fall.
Looking at the Orcas’ massive starting lineup, it’s easy to see how this group might be able to employ its length and athleticism in multiple sports played on the hardwood. Kendall Homenick (6’6”), Adam Olsen (6’6”), Cyrus Harrison (6’5”) and Lucas Roling (6’5”) flank point guard Lucas Egitto, who stands a mere 6’0”. Oh, and Elgin Park also has couple of other 6’5” gents (Connor Gordon and Evan Castle) available off the bench.
But make no mistake, these Orcas are proper ballers. The Timberline Wolves found that out first-hand on Wednesday evening, as Elgin Park cruised past them 92-71 in the first round.
“We’ve never really had a basketball team like this,” said Grade 11 guard/forward Olsen, who earned player of the game honours after posting 20 points to lead all scorers. “We have one banner in our gym for basketball, hopefully make it two this year. We’ve got four, five, six (for volleyball)… it’s a lot.
“I was the starting middle on the volleyball team, along with Kendall Homenick who’s probably going to university to play volleyball, and Nick Johnson, our setter, who’s going to UBC.
“It was a good team effort today. We hit a lot of threes at the end, and we’ve got a lot of energy going into tomorrow.”
It quickly became apparent that the Orcas, with their seemingly endless length, are the most imposing team in the 3A draw. They wreaked havoc defensively early and often, and then got out in transition on their way to a 30-15 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Campbell River-based Timberline, the third-place finisher out of the Vancouver Island zone, was making its 3A provincial tourney debut, and they steadied themselves in the second quarter, playing the Orcas nearly even in the frame. The deficit, though, was 46-30 at the half.
Elgin Park kept the pedal to the metal throughout the second half – Faizaan Shaheen caught fire from beyond the arc in the fourth quarter, draining four triples to help his team keep the Wolves at arm’s length.
Shaheen finished the game with 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting from downtown, Homenick registered 13 points and eight rebounds, Egitto scored 11 points, and Harrison and Roling had eight points apiece.
Breandan Mclaughlin had an outstanding outing for Timberline, piling up 18 points and 14 rebounds. Jasper Van De Vlasakker (15 points), Ryan Deagle (14), Andrew Robinson (10) and David Stevens (10) also scored in double figures for the Wolves.
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