TBI SUPER 16 CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL
SANTA MARGARITA 91 ST. PATRICK’S CELTICS 32
LANGLEY — The coach wanted them to feel it, really feel it.
He calls it ‘The Bump’ and it’s the bone-jarring part of basketball’s own school of hard knocks.
On Saturday, with his team still a little dazed and confused by the emotions which accompanied a 91-32 shellacking at the hands of the Santa Margarita Catholic Eagles, a SoCal-based team which plays in one of the best varsity high school leagues on the entire west coast, Nap Santos was more than happy to explain how important a 59-point loss by his two-time defending B.C. Triple-A championship team was in the Super 16 championship final here at the 2023 Tsumura Basketball Invitational.
“Just being on the court with them and our guys feeling that.. not just watchign it on TFSE TV,” Santos began, contrasting the difference between clicking the on-demand button to watch one of the Eagles games as a scouting tool via the Tsumura Basketball Invitational’s free tourney library streaming system, versus the actual experience of losing equilibrium in the face of a hard screen set by the likes of say, SMC senior guard and TBI Super 16 tourney MVP Tobias Averill.
“It’s about actually feeling it,” Santos continued. “The bump. Getting bumped and getting hit. I think our guys needed that, and I loved it.”
And the surest way to feel it Saturday was to poke the bear.
Fearless St. Pat’s did just that.
With 4:30 left in the first quarter, the Celtics had the audacity to knot the score at 8-8 with a nifty runner in the paint by Danny Geppert, a shot which followed hot on the heels of an Ethan Santa Juana three-pointer.
From that point, it was on… and by on, we mean the real, full-tilt ferocity the Eagles save for its Trinity League foes like Mater Dei High.
It was right there, says Santos, that his team needed to give ‘The Bump’ as good as it was taking it.
“We played nine-and-a-half good minutes and then after that it was ‘OK, we can run with them.’ As soon as we settled down they brought their energy up. We can’t do that. We have to keep our energy and our intensity up high. We just brought it down when we became a little too comfortable. It was 15-10 (for Santa Margarita) early in the second quarter, and we brought our energy down and relaxed.”
The response was clinical.
Near the midway juncture of the second quarter, in the span of maybe a minute, the Eagles’ Jonathan Moxie, Brayden Kyman and Cameron McNamee rained down back-to-back-to-back triples, turning a 17-10 lead into a 26-10 advantage which felt like it must in the presence of a jet fighter soaring skyward off the deck of an aircraft carrier at sea.
“I played in The Philippines and that is what it is like over there,” added Santos who has taken former players like current Simon Fraser guard Irish Coquia overseas to experience The Bump first hand.
“You have to try and find a way to get from point A to point B and they are not going to let you get to B. You have to find the way.”
At halftime, that was the message Santos was continuing to reinforce with his players.
“Let’s push back and see what happens when we push back,” he relayed in the post-game. “But then we stopped pushing back. We weren’t trying to find a way to go through. We were trying to get around. We don’t see that here. We don’t see that here. The way they do it over there is, they go through guys and it’s ‘I am not going to let him go through me’ so we bump. To learn it, you have to go through it.
“So for us to play against a team like that is the best experience for our guys regardless of the score.”
To that end, Santa Margarita head coach Justin Bell seemed especially proud of Averill’s selection as tourney MVP, despite the fact he didn’t make a major offensive contribution until Saturday’s final.
“He plays hard and he is about the right stuff,” said Bell. “He’s about what our program is about which is winning, playing hard, sacrificing for the team… which let’s call it what it is, it hard to do these days with young kids… trying to build team and get them to sacrifice their own self for the greater purpose of what we’re trying to accomplish. He kind of embodies that and what we’re about.”
As Bell had hoped during the spring when the trip to TBI was being worked out, and as he said all week during the team’s stay in both the Vancouver area, the flight north was as much about stepping off the early-season treadmill and look at the season through a wider lens.
“This trip personally was, I think, season changing,” he said after Saturday’s win and as the prepared to attend the Canucks’ game against Carolina. “Just the fact that we were able to get away from our normal environment and just kind of be together and see who we want to be.
“Every season is different and we started this seaosn off 3-3 (now 7-3), our defence wasn’t as good as we needed it to be, and getting up here and getting away from our environment, it was almost like a team getaway.
“We had a lot of team meetings to talk about our defensive effort, (and get the) guys in their roles. Sometimes it’s hard for them to focus at home when they’ve got so many distractions and things going on, so it was good to get away and understand what being a team is and developing… putting all the pieces together. That was awesome.”
Eleven different Eagles hit the scoresheet, led by the 12 points each of both Averill and Ethan Rhee, the 11 points of McNamee (all in the second quarter), and the 10 of Santa Margarita’s Player of the Game Drew Anderson.
Santa Juana and Jovin Sunner each scored eight points for St. Pat’s while Jakobi Matalabos and Ryan Garcia each scored five points.
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