Welcome to our live reports from the B.C. Double-A basketball championships.
Today, we’re thrilled to have veteran journalist and sports communication specialist Dan Kinvig re-join the team at Varsity Letters. Dan’s reports are the final six included on this posting, while the first two come from the LEC’s own Gary Ahuja.
We also want to thank Dan and UBC’s Wilson Wong for their excellent photography!
Before we get to the reports, however, here is Thursday’s championship draw schedule with all games being played on South Court:
TOP HALF DRAW
10 a.m. — Glenlyon Norfolk vs. King David
4:45 p.m. — Credo Christian vs. Vernon Christian
BOTTOM HALF DRAW
6:30 p.m. — Highroad Academy vs. Similkameen
8:15 p.m. — Kelowna Christian vs. Cedars Christian
By Gary Ahuja, Special for Varsity Letters
No. 1 GLENLYON NORFOLK 89 No. 16 FERNIE 68
LANGLEY — “They are not a number 16 seed.”
Those were the words of Glenlyon Norfolk Gryphons head coach Harvey Thorau as his No. 1 ranked squad was given a first-half scare by the No. 16 Fernie Falcons.
The Falcons shot 40 per cent from the field (compared to 28.3 per cent for Glenlyon Norfolk) and Fernie took a 45-38 lead into the locker room.
But Thorau told his charges to stay the course, which they did, and they were rewarded, outscoring Fernie 51-23 over the final 20 minutes as the shooting percentages were reversed with the Gryphons hitting a blistering 52.4 per cent of their shots compared to Fernie’s 23.7 per cent.
The teams were playing the final game of the 1A tier at the B.C. High School Basketball Championships at Langley Events Centre on Wednesday with the Gryphons trying to make it a perfect eight-for-eight for top seeds advancing.
“Stay the course. We had all kinds of layups that didn’t go, we had close-in shots that were ringing off the iron, and it was just play our game and it will take care of itself,” Thorau explained.
The Falcons have been a great shooting team all season but Fernie assistant coach Ian Johnson said his team ran out of gas as the Gryphons wore them down.
“They run, they are a fast team and we just got a bit tired,” he said.
Thorau said the second-half surge came from his veteran-laden team, who took the team motto of ‘Do your job’ to heart.
“Sometimes coaches get drowned out by the sound of our own voice. I think that the second half came from within them.”
The Gryphons received a monster effort from Chris Graham who scored 39 points, grabbed a dozen rebounds and had eight steals.
The Falcons received 20 points, eight rebounds and seven steals from Liam McLean and 19 points from Nesta Malcom.
No. 3 HIGHROAD ACADEMY 88 No. 15 MCBRIDE 55
LANGLEY — Chilliwack’s Highroad Academy Knights held the McBride Mustangs to 21 first-half points as they won 88-55 in the round of 16.
“The first half especially, we came up with intensity. Even though we went up early, they maintained their focus, which is what I asked them to do,” said Knights coach Steve Basaraba, who was able to use his entire roster for significant minutes.
Aidan Morris led the team with 30 points while Elijah Grimard had 14 points and 11 rebounds and Samuel Pichura had 13 points, five steals and four rebounds.
Shaemen Pauls led the Mustangs with 16 points and nine rebounds and Tavish Swets had 13 points and seven rebounds.
By Dan Kinvig, Special for Varsity Letters
No. 5 Vernon Christian 61 vs. No. 12 Nanaimo Christian 48
On the eve of his team’s first-ever appearance at the B.C. high school basketball championships, Vernon Christian Royals head coach Robere Gingras was struck by a rather cinematic thought.
In the classic hoops movie Hoosiers, Gene Hackman’s character Norman Dale famously instructs his team to measure the dimensions of the court and the height of the baskets when they arrive at the state championships.
“I think you’ll find it’s the exact same measurements as our gym back in Hickory,” he says.
Gingras and the Royals had watched Hoosiers on the drive down south, and when they walked into the arena bowl for the tournament banquet on Tuesday, Gingras looked at the hoops and while he didn’t actually break out the tape measure, he had an inkling that his boys would be feeling a little bit like that fictional Hickory High squad.
“It’s one of those vibes for us,” he explained. “We hosted the Valleys this year, and we don’t even host in our own gym because it’s too small – it’s got no sideline.
“One thing I was worried about coming in here was the whole atmosphere. We’re not used to this, we’ve never been here . . . I was worried about our boys being overwhelmed and out of sorts, and that certainly was the case today.”
Indeed, the Royals were tentative in the first half of their opener Wednesday vs. Nanaimo Christian, and the outcome was in doubt at the break, with the No. 5 seed clinging to a 29-27 lead.
Vernon Christian found their mojo in the third quarter, outscoring their opponents 15-6 in the frame, and they maintained the lead throughout the fourth.
“It was a struggle for us,” Gingras said afterward. “We just got back to those basics in the second half – finishing on defence with a box-out, just the dirty stuff that no one is going to read about in the newspaper but is so vital.
“At the end of the day, it’s our first win at provincials, and that’s something we’ve never done before. An ugly win, but we move on. We’ll laugh about it, and we’ll get ready for the next game. And the good news is, we didn’t show (quarter-final opponent) Credo anything!”
Devon Hofsink sparked the Royals with 21 points, Ben Molitwenik had 13 points and 13 rebounds, and Braeden McAmmond had 10 points and nine boards.
Tyson Seward (15 points, eight rebounds), Matthew Morris (12 points) and Alex Bloedern (10 points) were the top scorers for Nanaimo Christian.
No. 7 Cedars Christian 62 vs. No. 10 Pemberton 44
A balanced attack and lights-out defence in the fourth quarter paved the way for the Cedars Christian Eagles to punch their ticket to the Elite Eight.
The Eagles, making their first trip to the B.C.’s since 2013, saw four players score in double figures in Wednesday’s 62-44 triumph over the Pemberton Red Devils, led by Joel Nelson’s 13-point effort. Evan Staves scored 12, Mitch Crosina 11, and Ben Wolitski 10 for the Prince George squad.
At the defensive end, Cedars Christian clamped down in the final frame, limiting Pemberton to six points while scoring 14 of their own. That allowed them to take a still-accessible 48-38 margin after three quarters and put the game out of reach.
The Red Devils got a game-high totals from Quinn Sam-Finlay (14 points) and Travis Beattie (nine rebounds).
No. 2 Kelowna Christian 100 vs. No. 15 Gold River 28
The Kelowna Christian Knights flexed their collective muscles in their Single A provincial opener on Wednesday, rolling past the Gold River Cougars 100-28.
The Okanagan zone champion Knights limited the Cougars to single-digit scoring in each quarter, building a 24-6 lead at the end of the opening frame and cruising from there, en route to hitting the century mark.
Twelve Kelowna Christian players hit the scoresheet, and it was a balanced attack indeed as no one scored more than Jake Sabbagh’s 14 points. Aidan Borne (13), Parker Fleming (11) and Parker Martens (11) also scored in double figures. The Knights excelled at the defensive end, holding the Cougars to 21.1 per cent shooting from the field.
Gold River, the third-place finisher out of the Vancouver Island zone, was making its second straight provincial appearance after debuting at the LEC last year. Tyler Gedlaman and Dayton Jack tied for team-high honours with nine points and five rebounds apiece.
No. 4 Credo Christian 80 vs. No. 13 Deer Lake 61
The Credo Christian Kodiaks learned a valuable lesson on Wednesday afternoon: Cruise control isn’t going to cut it in a provincial championship setting.
The Langley squad, seeded No. 4 in the Single A draw, gave their hometown fans a few nervous moments in the third quarter before pulling away for an 80-61 triumph over Deer Lake in their opener.
The Kodiaks appeared to be in complete control at the half, leading by a 41-30 count. But Deer Lake’s Ian Ma caught fire, drilling three straight shots from beyond the arc to get his team to within 47-44 with six minutes left in the third quarter.
Will Dykstra, Credo Christian’s 6’1” senior forward and leading scorer at 25 points per game, found a response. He got to the rim for a layup (plus the foul) to end the Deer Lake run, then made a couple of triples in quick succession to push the lead back to double digits at 55-45.
From that juncture, the Kodiaks were fine – they maintained a cushion in the neighbourhood of 10 points into the fourth quarter, and extended the lead in the dying minutes.
“We came into a first-round game thinking things will be easy,” analyzed Credo Christian coach Justin Vanderploeg, whose Kodiaks are making their fifth straight trip to the B.C.’s. “The guys were kind of playing it cool instead of wanting to get out there and play physical and win the game. Once they made that run, it made us realize, ‘Oh, we have to play.’ And after that, we started playing with a bit more intensity.
“Once we started playing the right way, it was fun to watch.”
Dykstra racked up a game-high 30 points in highly efficient fashion (11-for-19 from the field, 3-for-3 from beyond the arc), to go with seven rebounds and two blocks. He was joined in double figures by Anthony Vanderstoep (15) and Eliah Faragalla (11).
“He’s been our leader, and he’s always there in those types of moments for us,” Vanderploeg said, reflecting on Dykstra’s influence during the decisive third-quarter stretch. “He’s been our best player all year long, and best players do that.”
Deer Lake’s Kevin Ferrufino turned in a tremendously gritty performance, battling the taller Kodiaks in the paint on his way to 28 points and 20 rebounds. Ma finished with 16 points, and Michael Mvundura scored 10.
No. 8 King David 80 vs. No. 9 Northside Christian 75
LANGLEY — At 8:30 in the morning, mustering the energy and intensity befitting a provincial championship game is no easy task.
But for the King David Lions, it’s old hat.
“The last two years, we’ve also had the 8:30 a.m. game, so this is not new for us,” Lions head coach David Amram noted. “We’ve got a lot of experience with it, and the guys came out well.”
Indeed, the Lions came out like they’d spent their early-morning drive to the Langley Events Centre chugging Red Bull. The Vancouver squad raced out to a 29-9 lead over the Northside Christian North Stars at the end of the first quarter.
The Vanderhoof-based North Stars found their footing in the second quarter and mounted a stirring rally, trimming the daunting deficit to 58-56 early in the fourth quarter.
King David never relinquished the lead, though, and were able to earn a spot in the Elite Eight for the second straight year. Oliver Munt put the finishing touches on the victory – with his team leading 78-75 in the dying seconds, the Lions’ 6’5” Grade 10 centre missed a pair of free throws, seemingly opening the door for Northside Christian. But the rebound off his second miss caromed directly to him, and he was fouled again and this time made good on both foul shots to ice the game.
Munt had a monster performance, racking up 28 points and 10 rebounds. Yuval Jacob counted four three-pointers among his 20 points, and Saul Khalifa scored 13 and notched six assists.
The North Stars had four players score in double figures: Kyle Bublitz (19), Regan Unger (18), Alex Durupt (17 points, 10 rebounds) and Tyrel Ventin (11).
No. 6 Similkameen 90 vs. No. 11 Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Nay 54
LANGLEY — The Similkameen Sparks kept the pedal to the metal throughout their Single A provincial tourney opener on Wednesday morning, fast-breaking their way to a 90-54 victory over Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Nay.
The Sparks, who hail from Keremeos, outscored their opponents from Masset on Haida Gwaii in all four quarters, looking to push the pace throughout.
“We shoot the ball well, we move the ball well, we run well,” Similkameen coach Billy Potash noted afterward. “That is our game.”
Sparks senior forward Corbin Marsden, a first team provincial all-star last year, set the tone for his squad with a double-double (26 points, 16 rebounds, 4-for-10 from beyond the arc). Tyson Douanpangya (16 points) and Armaan Dhaliwal (11 points) also had big games offensively for Similkameen.
Devan Boyco, who scorched the Northwest zone tournament to the tune of 45 points per game, was prolific once again for Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Nay. He poured in 34 points to go with eight rebounds and three assists.
“He’s real good, and he’s only in Grade 11 – he’ll be even better next year,” Potash said of Boyco. “It’s a long trip, and I thought they played well and played hard.
“For a while, we played well on defence and then let down. But essentially, we played our game.”
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