LANGLEY — Welcome back loyal Varsity Letters readers. We’ve gone final for the night.
Today, we’re honoured that longtime former Vancouver Sun sports reporter Gary Kingston has re-joined the Varsity Letters team and will provide game reports from this tier throughout the day. The LEC’s own Gary Ahuja will also provide our first filing of the day on the 10 a.m. tip between King David and Glenlyon Norfolk.
Those game reports follow below, but first here’s a look at Friday’s Final Four as Single-A top four seeds have all survived:
TOP HALF DRAW
3:30 p.m. — No. 1 Glenlyon Norfolk vs. No 4 Credo Christian
BOTTOM HALF DRAW
5:15 p.m. — No. 2 Kelowna Christian vs. No. 3 Highroad Academy
BY GARY AHUJA, Special for Varsity Letters
TOP HALF DRAW
No. 1 GLENLYON NORFOLK 80 No. 8 KING DAVID 72
LANGLEY — If head coach Harvey Thorau had his way, Chris Graham would not graduate this year.
“I’ve already told his mom, he is not going to graduate this year, I have already changed his PR card,” the coach chuckled about making his star stay another year to finish schooling.
Graham scored 36 points and grabbed eight rebounds, and this came on the heels of a 39-point performance from the Grade 12 star the night before, to lead the No. 1 Glenlyon Norfolk (Victoria) Gryphons to an 80-72 victory over the No. 8 King David (Vancouver) Lions.
The victory secured a spot in the 1A semifinals tomorrow night at Langley Events Centre as the Gryphons look for the school’s first senior boys provincial basketball banner since 2007.
The team did not make things easy on themselves in Thursday’s quarter-final as they battled foul trouble, with three players fouling out in the fourth quarter. One of those trio was six-foot-five Noah Fekete, who had four fouls in the first half, sat the entire third quarter and then promptly picked up his fifth and disqualifying foul 27 seconds into the final period.
“He is one of our three key leaders and we predicate our play on having at least two bigs in there,” the coach said.
At the time, the Gryphons were holding a slim two-point lead and Thorau admitted he was not sure how his team would react to the adversity.
“We were worried about the mental and physical let down and there was, but the guys pulled through. It’s not the first time we have had to play with fouls, but it is a testament to the guys on the floor. They are battle-tested,” he said.
While they may have missed Fekete (who still managed 14 points and 11 rebounds while playing less than half the game), the Gryphons were able to take advantage of King David’s shooting struggles, repeatedly burning the Lions in transition with an 10-1 run before the Lions finally sank a field goal with 4:36 remaining in the quarter.
The Lions would get as close as five points, 73-68 with 2:12 to go, but could not shave any more of the deficit.
“Those kids played their hearts out. It was tough-nosed. It was gritty. They executed their game plan and had us running in circles at times it seemed,” Thorau said of the Lions.
King David was ultimately done in by a poor shooting game, especially at the line as they shot less than 50 per cent, making just 15 of 32 free throws. They were also 1-for-17 from beyond the arc.
Oliver Munt (26 points, 16 rebounds) and Saul Khalifa (16 points, 18 rebounds) led the way for the Lions.
BY GARY KINGSTON, Special for Varsity Letters
No. 4 CREDO CHRISTIAN 78 No. 5 VERNON CHRISTIAN 58
LANGLEY — When you’re a shooter and your shot’s not falling, there’s only one thing to do. Just keep shooting. Your luck is bound to change.
Credo Christian guard Anthony Vanderstoep knew that. But it sure took a huge leap of faith to keep firing long-range bombs on Thursday night.
With his team down 11 points late in the third quarter and staring at a dismal 0-for-11 from behind the arc, Vanderstoep admits he feared the worst in his school’s quarterfinal Single A matchup with Vernon Christian.
“I actually thought we were done for,” said Vanderstoep after leading a stirring comeback with four treys in the fourth quarter as the Kodiaks downed Vernon Christian Royals 78-58.
Vernon still led 55-47 when Vanderstoep, a six-foot Grade 12 finally caught fire. He hit three treys in a two-minute stretch, then added another, plus two free throws, with just under four minutes to go for a 66-56 lead. That finished off a 27-6 Credo Christian run.
“It just feels good (when you get hot),” said Vanderstoep, who punctuated his last two treys with emphatic fist pumps. “Your team is down and it’s like win or go home, so making those shots feels good.”
Credo Christian outscored Vernon Christian 36-6 in the decisive fourth quarter as the Royals, who faced constant full-court pressure, shot a dismal 23.3 per cent in the second half.
“They’re way bigger than us, so the game plan was push the ball, full-court press the whole game long,” said Credo Christian head coach Justin Vanderploeg. “We knew that could get us (in trouble) at the beginning of the game because with a lot of energy, teams can break a press. But we stuck with the game plan, knew we could get back in it. And when Anthony hit a few threes that certainly helped.
“He’s a shooter, so I always tell him a shooter’s going to shoot if he’s open. I mean, I wish I could game plan for him to hit four threes in a row. I’m pretty happy he did it.”
Forward Stephan Klein led the Kodiaks with 22 points. Vanderstoep finished with 21 and Will Dykstra had a double-double with 16 points and 11 boards.
Devon Hofsink was an efficient 10-of-17 for a game-high 23 points for Vernon Christian. He also pulled down 13 boards. Tanner Dwitt added 13 points for the Royals.
BOTTOM HALF DRAW
No. 2 KELOWNA CHRISTIAN 79 No. 7 CEDARS CHRISTIAN 41
LANGLEY — The Kelowna Christian Knights started at a slow trot but by the second half rolled around, they were in a full gallop.
Held to just seven first-quarter points by the No. 7 seed Cedars Christian Eagles, the Knights scored 72 points the rest of the way to assure themselves of a spot in the semifinals Friday (5:15 p.m.) against No. 3 Highroad Academy.
Colin Christophe led the winners with 17 points while Jake Sabbagh and Indy Hallett each had eight points, with 12 and 10 rebounds respectively.
Evan Staves suffered through a 4-for-21 shooting night, and was the only double-digit scorer for the Prince George school with 14 points.
No. 3 HIGHROAD ACADEMY 70 No. 6 SIMILKAMEEN 62
LANGLEY — It’s been a long road back to the Single A B.C. boys basketball championships, but for Highroad Academy of Chilliwack, the wait has been worth it.
The young Knights (just two Grade 12s on the 12-man roster) made it to the Friday night semifinals by dispatching the Similkameen Sparks 70-62 in quarterfinal action Thursday at the Langley Events Centre.
It’s the first appearance at provincials in 10 years for Highroad, which won its only title in 2002.
“We’re pretty excited to be back,” said Highroad head coach Steve Basaraba, who figures to have the Knights, whose roster includes five Grade 11s and five Grade 10s, in a similar position next season.
Grade 11s Aidan Morris and Easton Abel led the winners with 20 and 15 points, respectively, while another Grade 11 Dawson Hartskamp had a double-double with 14 points and 10 boards.
Highroad jumped out to a 23-11 first-quarter lead and was up 41-25 at the break. A big third quarter allowed Similkameen to close to within a point after three, put the composed Knights closed it out with a solid fourth.
“We came out really strong . . . but this team (Similkameen) has scored all year long, so we knew they were going to come back,” said Basaraba. “We just stayed the course and I tried to keep my guys calm, tried to to keep the composed. It’s an exciting win for us. We held a team that normally scores 100 points to 60. You do that, good things happen.”
“This is a young squad, but they are composed. I appreciate that about them.”
Corbin Marsden led the Sparks with 26 points and pulled down 17 rebounds. Tysan Douanpangya scored 18 and Jughrag Boparai added 15.
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