What a terrific round of games to open TBI 2017 at the Langley Events Centre.
Here’s reports from all of today’s eight games as well as a full schedule of tomorrow’s games:
TOP SIDE DRAW
8:45 a.m. — W.J. Mouat vs. Burnaby South
10:30 a.m. — Holy Cross vs. Lord Tweedsmuir
BOTTOM SIDE DRAW
8:45 a.m. —Oak Bay vs. Walnut Grove
10:30 a.m. —Yale vs. Terry Fox
7 p.m. — both games
4:30 p.m. — championship final
THURSDAY’S ROUND OF SWEET 16
WALNUT GROVE 88 BYRNE CREEK 82
LANGLEY — It’s like new Walnut Grove Gators head coach Reid Taylor said of his Gators on Thursday.
“We’re not a big team like we were last season,” Taylor commented after his Gators used a late run to hold off Burnaby’s Byrne Creek Cougars 88-82 in an opening round game Thursday at the Tsumura Basketball Invitational.
“We need to get out and run and I don’t think that’s a secret. But we also need to rebound better.”
Re-invention coming off a B.C. AAAA championship last March under the now-retired legend George Bergen will be the Gators’ No. 1 challenge this season.
Yet for much of Thursday’s clash against the AAA power Bulldogs, Walnut Grove looked like a team comfortable in its skin.
B.C. AAAA tourney MVP James Woods not only led the way with 23 points, he clearly has a running mate in new Grade 11 guard Jarrett Jacobs, who added 21 and never looked like he questioned his role as a team leader.
The Bulldogs, however, were clearly no pushovers.
After the Gators started the third quarter on a 7-0 run to build a 16-point lead, Byrne Creek came back strong.
A trey to beat the third-quarter buzzer by Daniel Cion tied the game at 61-61.
Then Martin Djunga’s layin put the Bulldogs head 63-61.
It remained as tight as a drum down the stretch drive until Walnut Grove put together an 11-2 run down the late stretch, capped by Ritesh Nandukumar’s trey to make it 88-74.
“We have to learn to execute for 40 minutes,” said Byrne Creek head coach Bal Dhillon. “We were able to go on some nice runs but they did, too. We fell asleep for for a while there. We have scheduled tough teams to start the year and they are a measure to us. We have to be honest with ourselves.”
Tyrell Urefe scored 12 points for the winner, hitting four triples.
Djunga led the Dawgs with 25 while Majok Deng added 16 and Bithow Wan 12.
OAK BAY 94 NORTH DELTA 48
LANGLEY — The Oak Bay Bays spent all of last week huddled on the practice court, waiting for three key members of their team to join them upon conclusion of the Big Kahuna B.C. Boys AAA volleyball championships.
Cam Henderson, Diego Maffia and Riley Cronk are back, and on Thursday, this 10-deep capital city conglomerate showed they are a championship title contender.
Head coach Chris Franklin rolled his bench without a blip of change in the team’s performance, and a quick 28-5 start carried the day in a decisive win over a very young North Delta Huskies team.
“We were waiting to get all of our volleyball kids back,” Franklin smiled when asked what his team did all last week, not playing a game while the rest of the competition wracked up as many as six games played.
Maffia, the Grade 11 guard, showcased a floor game and a speedy set of hops that rival his unparalleled three-point shooting game, finishing with a game-high 23 points.Tyler Hills added 19 and Henderson 14.
Yet the depth and parity in the talent level of this year’s Bays team is its most impressive quality.
“Guys like Freeman (Taylor) and Valdi (Alarie-Hill) and Andy (Pittman) worked so hard in the offseason,” added Franklin.
The Huskies, whose core is centred around first-year senior varsity Grade 11s who led the school to the B.C. JV final four last March, got an awakening against one of the province’s elite teams.
“We came out flat and we have to learn that there are no easy games (at senior varsity),” said Huskies head coach Jesse Hundal. “We need to bring more urgency and intensity to start games.”
Suraj Gahir led the Huskies with 18 points, 10 of which came in the third quarter, Vik Hayer added 11.
W.J. MOUAT 82 HERITAGE WOODS 50
LANGLEY — Dhivaan Bhogal scored a game-high 30 points, all through the first three quarters as Abbotsford’s Hawks parlayed a quick start into an 82-50 win over Port Moody’s Kodiaks.
Sukhi Kang added 10 points in the win while Zach Hamed added 11 to lead Heritage Woods.
BURNABY SOUTH 87 R.A. MCMATH 60
LANGLEY — The Burnaby South Rebels opened as the new No. 1-ranked team in B.C. boys Quad A basketball, but that old adage of top dog getting everyone’s best shot held true.
Vince Sunga dropped 30 points, including eight triples and three straight threes to open the game as the Rebels used a late surge to beat Richmond’s Wildcats.
South led 58-51 heading into the fourth quarter, then peeled off a 12-0 run to end the game and win by 17 points.
Jusuf Sehic with 12 points, and Sasha Vujisic and Kyle Kirmaci with 11 each helped pace the winners.
Bryce Mason scored 17 to lead McMath, while Victor Radocaj with 11, and the trio of Natrone Gonzales Rohan Balaggan and Jordin Kojima added 10 each.
YALE 81 DUCHESS PARK 69
LANGLEY — Bradley Braich was feeling a little winded after Yale’s first exhibition game of the season last week, so what did the Lions’ superstar senior guard do?
“He went for a jog after the game because he knows how fit he has to be this season,” said head coach Euan Roberts. “He’s getting ready for the end of the season now.”
Perhaps no single player will be leaned on to the extent of Braich.
After a series of unexpected defections rocked Yale, and saw its fortunes plummet from preseason No. 4 to out of the Varsity Letters Big 10 AAA rankings, the talented scorer has become the sole focus of opposition defences.
On Thursday, Braich held court at the TBI, scoring 46 points and leading his team to a win over a very talented and gutsy Duchess Park Condors crew out of Prince George.
“All of the teams we know, they know where the scoring will come from,” Roberts added of Braich, “but Bradley helps everyone on this team do their job.”
While Braich was lighting up the sky Thursday, his counterpart, Duchess senior guard Colburn Pearce was his rare rival.
The Condors’ scoring machine, who had dropped 50 points in a game last week in the Kamloops-Westsyde Whundas tourney, finished wit 33 points.
Teammate Soren Erricson added 11.
“Getting games of the quality that we are getting here this weekend might be better than anything we get to see at the provincials,” said Duchess Park head coach Jordan Yu, the former UBC Thunderbird guard and Duchess grad. “It’s great for our guys to see a guy like Braich. We don’t get to see that during the course of our season.”
HOLY CROSS 81 SIR CHARLES TUPPER 53
LANGLEY — Surrey’s Holy Cross Crusaders are beginning to put a lot of distance between themselves and their two season-opening losses at the Kodiak Classic last week in Port Moody.
Jamel Osei-Anim poured home a team-high 22 points and Grade 10 phenom Uyi Ologhola added 14 more in a sound win over Vancouver’s Sir Charles Tupper Tigers.
Gaurab Achyra led the Tigers with a game-high 27 points, while Simon Crossfield added 11 in the loss.
A total of 14 threes were hit in a contest between two teams known for their long-range shooting prowess.
Instead, the Crusaders showcased their lightning quick transition game, and their pressure defence to build a 42-25 halftime lead.
LORD TWEEDSMUIR 85 KELOWNA 66
LANGLEY — Fueled by a second-and-third quarter splurge which saw them outscore the Kelowna Owls 45-24, Surrey’s Panthers relied on balanced scoring to find their way to a crosstown clash in Friday’s quarterfinals with the Holy Cross Crusaders.
Arjun Samra with 16 points, and Patrick Jonas and Dylan Kincey with 13 each led the LT attack, one which saw 10 players score five or more points.
Cole McAvoy scored 20 for the Owls, who led 19-13 after the first quarter.Matt Williamson added 10.
TERRY FOX 70 SOUTH KAMLOOPS 62
LANGLEY — For a young Terry Fox Ravens team, the opening round of the TBI was just what the doctor ordered.
The Ravens, the only non-ranked or non-honourable mention team in the 16-team field, made the shots and the stops they needed to down the stretch to hold off the AAA No. 1-ranked South Kamloops Titans.
“It was exactly what this team needed,” said Ravens’ head coach Brad Petersen. “To be in it in the fourth quarter, to play meaningful minutes, and then to learn how to win, it was a big game for us.”
David Chien led the winners with 21 points, Jacob Mand added 16, Ko Takahashi 11 and Grady Stanyer eight.
All of those players are Grade 11s with the exception of the point guard Takahashi, who is a Grade 10.
It was a tough night for the Titans, who came into the game off of two untimely injuries suffered Monday against Vernon.
Leading scorer Evan Jumaga, a guard, and 6-foot-10 senior centre Ripley Martin, both sat out with injuries and neither is expected to play in the TBI.
“Our guys learned today that when you have injuries, all you can say is ‘Next man up,’” said Titans’ head coach Tim Unaegbu.
The Titans, despite their challenges, led 29-25 at the half and 39-29 in the third quarter before the Ravens dug deep and rallied in what was an 18-point swing to the final buzzer.
Reid Jansen scored a game-high 25 in the loss while Nick Sarai had 13 points and Sam Jean 10.
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