LANGLEY — Down and perhaps counted out by many over the course of a long, tough Fraser Valley winter, Coquitlam’s Centennial Centaurs are headed to the Big Dance for the first time in a decade.
“The last time we went was 10 years ago (2009) when (newly-signed B.C. Lions’ receiver) Lemar Durant was in Grade 11,” remembered a jubilant head coach Rob Sollero after his Centaurs dodged some horrific free throw shooting down the stretch to hold off the quick, fluid and athletic Guildford Park Sabres of Surrey 80-78.
Guildford Park took a 42-37 lead into the third quarter, but the Centaurs’ balanced attack saw five different players — Solomon Wauye, Terry Chao, Braeden Markiewicz, Shay O’Connor, Leif Skelding — hit triples as part of a 25-15 frame which re-stored the lead the rest of the way.
“We made it hard on ourselves,” continued Sollero. “We had the game under control, and we started to panic a little late in the game, and we have a lot of young players.”
The key for the Centaurs?
They have their big man, 6-foot-7 Dominic Parolin, fully back in the groove after a broken thumb in mid-December tipped the scales of the team’s equilibrium.
Parolin missed four straight free throws at the end of the game, but was still the game’s leading scorer, depositing 17 of his 25 points in the opening half.
Junior varsity call-up guard Terry Cho scored 13 of his 21 in the second half, while Leif Skelding scored 14 points.
Guildford Park still has one more chance to qualify for the provincials, and that will come on Sunday when they face the loser of today’s current game between Walnut Grove and Heritage Woods.
Edrielle Asirit led the Sabres with 23 points, Jas Dhudwal added 22 and Vincente Ubaldo a further 20.
The tourney was still reeling after of No. 8 provincially-ranked Tamanawis and honourable-mention Semiahmoo were both eliminated on Wednesday night. The Wildcats were toppled 77-71 by unranked Heritage Woods, while the Totems were beaten 90-76 by fellow honourable-mention Walnut Grove.
“It feels fantastic and coach (Alan) Kaselj and I have been at this for a long time,” said Sollero of his longtime coaching partner, and the man who was the head coach 10 years ago for the team’s last B.C. tourney trip.
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