LANGLEY — Welcome back loyal Varsity Letters readers. We’ve gone final for the night!
TOP HALF DRAW
6:30 p.m. — Sir Charles Tupper vs. North Delta
8:15 p.m. — Duchess Park vs. G.W. Graham
BOTTOM HALF DRAW
3 p.m. — Argyle vs. A.R. MacNeill
4:45 p.m. — Vernon vs. Rick Hansen
TOP HALF DRAW
No. 9 NORTH DELTA 74 No. 1 SIR CHARLES TUPPER 67
LANGLEY — Jesse Hundal has peace of mind these days as Friday’s Final Four dawns.
Not only are the North Delta Huskies headed for the provincial semifinals as a No. 9 seed, they’re doing so with a self-belief so firm in their minds that Hundal, the team’s coach, says that in a manner of speaking, his job is to simply stay out of their way.
“They are doing it themselves and when the team takes over from the coaches, special things are going to happen,” said Hundal after Husky nation watched North Delta storm the palace gates off the opening tip, building a lead as large as 21 points in the first half en route to a 74-67 win over the No. 1-ranked Sir Charles Tupper Tigers of Vancouver.
Simply put, North Delta’s present mental state is built on the perfect balance of emotion and excitement.
In the wrong hands, it could go terribly awry.
Yet because of the character of its leading man, senior guard Suraj Gahir, and his limited mobility owing to an ankle injury, he has raised the team’s investment in each other because more than ever, he needs them as much as they need him. It’s the perfect example of everyone plays, everyone wins.
And the best proof of that?
How about the fact that Gahir. capable of putting up 30 points per night with ease, fashioned a triple-double of 19 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists Thursday?
Or how about that fact that Gahir was one of five Huskies in double-figures, with the other four players — Vik Hayer (11), Jag Johal (10), Arun Atker (13), Bhavraj Thiara (12) — all within three points of each other?
All this against the province’s No. 1-ranked team.
And thus while the fully healthy Gahir was able to take over games by himself, this new version has many pondering an interesting question.
In fact one veteran observer said it out Lous when he remarked that the Huskies are an even more dangerous team this way.
The Tigers rallied valiantly but just ran out of time down the stretch.
Simon Crossfield with 17 points, Joven Dhillon with 13, and Mitchell Morgan and Gaurab Acharya with 10 each
“We’ve talked about the numbers,” said Hundal of the fact that the No. 9 Huskies beat the No. 1 Tigers. “But one and nine are just numbers. At the end of the day we have a fighting chance, and we’ll live with whatever happens.”
North Delta is set to face the G.W, Graham vs. Duchess Park winner in a Friday 5:15 p.m. semifinal.
No. 4 DUCHESS PARK 72 No. 5 G.W. GRAHAM 64
LANGLEY — Trailing by eight points with the fourth-quarter stretch drive already well underway, Prince George’s Duchess Park Condors looked like a team ready to bid their B.C. title hopes good-bye at the hands of Chilliwack’s G.W. Graham Grizzlies.
But then it started.
The No. 4 Condors began to chip away at a 64-56 deficit, and the dam broke loose when Duchess Park’s Caleb Lyons first hit a trey to cut the deficit to 65-64, and teammate Soren Erricson made a steal and lay-up to give his team the lead at 67-64.
Those two plays, which flipped momentum in a span of just 17 seconds with 1:32 remaining, were the driving force behind a 16-0 game-closing run which gave the Condors a berth in Friday’s 6:30 p.m. semifinal against the No. 9 North Delta Huskies.
“It was an unbelievable sequence,” said Duchess Park head coach Jordan Yu, whose team lost to eventual champion South Kamloops at this same juncture last season. “Caleb has been hot all weekend, and when he gets those naked looks, you pray it’s going to go down. Then Soren gets a steal and gets out into transition and has an easy bucket. That was one of our keys as well. We knew we were the smaller team and we knew we had to keep it uptempo. So getting it to the rim without their big guys being there was important. That’s why getting out in transition was so huge for us.”
G.W. Graham’s warrior-like effort came up one game-closing run shy.
Geevon Janday’s 18 point-12 rebound double-double led the way in vain. Cole Wicker hit four treys and finished with 16 points, while Ty Hall scored all 12 of his points off four triples.
Erricson, the team leader, scored a game-high 25 points for the Condors. Lyons added 18 including five triples, Dan Zimmerman had 15 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, while Emir Zejnulahovic had six points and a game-high 14 rebounds.
BOTTOM HALF DRAW
No. 2 VERNON 66 No. 7 RICK HANSEN 57
LANGLEY — The Vernon Panthers may carry a lot more profile than their foes in Friday’s Final Four by virtue of their No. 2 tournament seeding.
Yet Vernon head coach Malcolm Reid sees a lot of similarities in his team and the No. 6 A.R. MacNeill squad his Panthers go to battle against in a 3:30 p.m. semifinal on Friday.
“We were watching them play Argyle right before our game, so obviously our minds were elsewhere,” admitted Reid, “but they were down and it looked like Argyle had the game. They still fought back. So it’s going to be a battle of two teams who had to fight back from adversity.”
Matched against the always-tough Rick Hansen Hurricanes of Abbotsford, Vernon found itself trailing the ‘Canes 50-47 right at that juncture of the fourth quarter were a failed response might have equalled the end of their season.
Instead, with the game knotted 52-52, Vernon went on a 9-0 run to lead 61-51 and never looked back.
“It was an uphill battle tonight, Rick Hansen played extremely well and we knew going in that it was going to be a war,” added Reid whose team was led by the 17 points of Thomas Hyett, 16 more from Kevin Morgan, 12 from Isaiah Ondrik and 10 from Zack Smith. “Isaiah was struggling with his shot, but he found a way to win it for us with a couple of big threes.”
The ‘Canes got 20 points and 14 rebounds from Gurkaran Mangat, 13 more Jayden Bains and 12 from Monty Gill.
No. 6 A.R. MACNEILL 77 No. 14 ARGYLE 68
LANGLEY — Some might think that not having any experience to speak of at the provincial championships is a detriment to the A.R. MacNeill Ravens.
Yet ask these Richmond first-timers what the secret to their newfound Final Four success is, and they’ll tell you it’s because no one ever expected they’s come this far.
“There’s really no pressure,” said head coach Steward Siy after MacNeill punched its tickets to Friday’s semifinals with a 77-68 win over North Vancouver’s Cinderella No. 14-seeded Argyle Pipers in Thursday’s quarterfinals.
“We were happy just to get to oval,” continued Siy, of the Richmond Olympic Oval, site of the Lower Mainland playoffs. “So everything here is just bonus and we’re taking it as a learning experience of how we can get better.”
With all the pressure off, the Ravens didn’t seem to blink at being down 13 to a relentless Argyle team in the opening quarter.
So firm where they in their process that MacNeill turned that low ebb into a 14 point lead of their own in the fourth quarter, that 27-point swing the true arbiter of its ability to play without constrictions.
Usman Tung, the gutsy, undersized 6-foot-1 forward scored a team-high 30 points while compact guard Sky Tan, another senior added 20. Grade 11 Hudson Swaim had 10.
David Finch left nothing on the floor for the Pipers with a game-high 31 points. Gerial Larosa added 14 and Boris Zaviryukha 11.
“We were blown out in the (Richmond) city final, and we were blown out (by Charles Tupper) in the Lower Mainland final,” said Tung, whose team failed to even qualify for the Richmond playoffs last season. “So we have nothing to lose.”
Sometimes that can be the most dangerous kind of team to play.
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