LANGLEY — Thanks for re-joining us for our on-going coverage of the B.C. senior boys basketball championships from the Langley Events Centre.
Today, it’s quarterfinal Thursday at all four tiers.
Please continue to come back to us on this posting throughout the day as our team of writers and photographers give you the most complete coverage you will find anywhere.
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Here’s our game-by-game reports:
All stories by GARY AHUJA (Langley Events Centre special for Varsity Letters)
Cedars Christian Eagles 91 Aberdeen Hall Gryphons 80
No matter what happens from here on out, the Cedars Christian Eagles will be taking a best-ever finish back to Prince George.
The Eagles made sure of that with a 91-80 win over the Aberdeen Hall Gryphons in the quarter-final round.
“You always put it (top four) on the board, but once we looked at our team, we knew it was a realistic goal,” said Eagles coach Jeff Ludditt. “The boys wanted it right from the start (of the season). They knew the zone (title) was 100 per cent achievable and being here, making this group of four is huge for us. It is another checkmark in the box.”
The game did not start out well for Cedars Christian as their opponents from Kelowna (seeded No. 11 as the third team out of the tough Thompson-Okanagan zone) came out of the gates running, building a quick 10-1 lead.
“We took their punch, but we battled back and kept playing our game,” Ludditt said. “We knew it would take over eventually and it did.”
By the end of the first quarter, the Eagles were up 25-18 but the lead was down to one at the half as the Gryphons scored a quick eight points before the buzzer. The teams traded baskets to open the third and with a period to play, Cedars Christian was up 10 points. Aberdeen Hall did get it down to six with a minute to play, but from there, the Eagles iced the game from the free-throw line.
Cedars Christian was led by a trio of guards as Tony Kibonge, Mitch Crosina and Seth Hulka combined for 77 points with Kibonge scoring 29 while his teammates had 24 points apiece. Kyler Assam was the top scorer for the Gryphons with 28 points with Josh Kostek scoring 18 and Maxwell Hager chipping in 14.
Glenlyon Gryphons 74 Barriere Cougars 44
An 18-1 run to start the game had the Glenlyon Norfolk Gryphons off and running as the Victoria school booked a spot in the final four. The Gryphons build a sizable advantage by 20-plus points from the third quarter on in a 74-44 rout of the No. 10 Barriere Cougars.
The win earns the team a coveted spot in the final four.
“This was our goal all year: make the Final For and then anything can happen,” said coach Harvey Thorau of his second-ranked squad which will matchup against No. 3 Cedars Christian Eagles. “(And now) we’ve seen what’s out there … we know what the level is and we can play with anybody.”
The long-time coach also knows that at this juncture in the season, seeding means nothing, pointing out to the last time they were in the semi-final which came in 2019 and the Gryphons were the top seed.
“We are not counting any chickens before they are hatched. The last time we were in the semi-final, we lost in double overtime. It wasn’t arrogance or anything, we hit a bad patch of fouls and things didn’t go our way and it was devastating,” Thorau said, admitting the loss still stings.
Thursday’s quarter-final win was a result of the Gryphons playing their style and using their height advantage over the Cougars. Glenlyon Norfolk boasts a trio of centres who are six-foot-five, six-foot-six and six-foot-seven, as well as four other forwards between six-foot-one and six-foot-four. By comparison, Barriere’s tallest player is their six-foot-one point guard.
Centre Mason Carlson led the Gryphons with 20 points and guard Satchel Ramraj added 14 points for a balanced attack which saw 10 players score. Tanner Schilling and Ryan DeFelice scored a dozen points apiece for Barriere.
“We had a lull in the third where scoring was a little difficult because we weren’t doing what we should have been doing in the middle of the key, but I was proud of their efforts: they took charges, they moved the ball, they were communicating. It is coming together and we have two more to go,” Thorau said.
Unity Christian Flames 96 Bulkley Valley Royals 57
Holding just a two-point lead early in the second quarter, the message was simple: keep pushing the tempo, focus on the defensive end, and the shots will begin to fall.
The top-ranked Unity Christian Flames were up 18-16 against the eighth seed Bulkley Valley Royals in the quarter-final round. What followed was a 25-3 run as the Flames offence was scorching, putting up 37 points in that 10-minute stretch.
Up 55-29 at the half, Unity Christian did not relent, scoring another 26 points in the third period (compared to a combined 28 points for the Royals in the entire second half) for the 96-57 victory.
Jay Smeins led the Flames, scoring all 21 points in the second quarter. Levi Van Egdem chipped in 17 and Asher Toth had a dozen.
It advances the 2020 champions from Chilliwack to the semi-final round.
“They are a fun bunch when they get going like that,” said Flames coach David Bron. “We are a deep team and If we run eight, nine deep, we can keep pushing the tempo.”
“Our defensive intensity was so much better (today). We enjoyed playing defence today and we really owned it. I think we feed off that and then it’s fast breaks, it’s open shots. Our team is fairly offensive-minded, if we can focus on the defensive end, then it comes.”
The coach also gave kudos to the Royals, especially Bulkley Valley’s Grade 10 guard Paul Jada.
Fernie Falcons 90 Kelowna Christian Knights 39
Two years ago, the Fernie Falcons made school history with a fourth-place finish at the 1A Tournament. Following a decisive quarter-final victory where they blew out the Kelowna Christian Knights 90-39, the Falcons have at least guaranteed themselves fourth place.
“They saw the success of the team before them, and they wanted to do the same thing or better,” said Fernie coach AJ Kennedy. “They have put their nose to the grindstone and put the work in. They deserved this.”
Grade 10 guard Max Hatt put up 15 points in the opening quarter himself as the Falcons soared to a 25-7 lead and were never really threatened the rest of the way.
“We played really well as a group. Our defence today was cleaner, limited the fouls, which helps out a lot and usually when your defence is playing well, your offence starts clicking,” Kennedy said.
Hatt finished with 21 points, Michael Spoonhunter had 19 and Diego Grijalva chipped in with 17. Grijalva is the lone returnee from that 2020 team.
“The games only get tougher and tougher and tougher and you have to keep improving. I know we played a pretty good tonight but there are always things you can keep improving on, little things that the boys can do, and I can help them see,” Kennedy said ahead of their showdown with the defending champion and No. 1 seed Unity Christian Flames.
Ethan Gray, with 11 points, and Jack Madden with 10, led the Knights attack.
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