VANCOUVER — Jadon Cohee has had some great days playing basketball in his home province of B.C.
Like scoring 22 points and being picked tournament MVP in leading the Walnut Grove Gators to the B.C. senior boys Triple A championship in March of 2013.
Or later that summer, picking up the phone to take a call from none other than Steve Nash, asking him if he was free for three or four days to help him as his personal workout partner.
Cohee, in fact, hasn’t had too many bad days since returning home to the Lower Mainland this past summer from the NCAA Div. 1 ranks to resume his university career with the UBC Thunderbirds and lead them in scoring at 19.3 points-per-game over the regular season.
On Thursday, however, the odds caught up with him during a 2-for-12 shooting performance that accompanied the ‘Birds stunning 92-79 loss to the Fraser Valley Cascades in the opening game of their best-of-three Canada West quarterfinal series at War Gym.
It helped put their season on the brink.
All of that is what made the quality of his response Friday night, with his team’s season hanging in the balance, so career defining.
Cohee scored 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting, and dished six assists against just a single turnover as part of UBC’s rousing, season-saving 85-58 win, a victory which not only restored the confidence of the nation’s No. 6-ranked team, but that of its regular-season scoring leader.
The third-and-deciding game of the series tips off 7 p.m. Saturday back at War Memorial Gymnasium.
“I didn’t sleep last night,” Cohee admitted after Friday’s win. “I had one of the worst games of my career. But it happens. It’s basketball. In 24 hours we got back to it and we got a win.”
UBC head coach Kevin Hanson was sure that Cohee had internalized too much heading into Thursday’s game, and was relieved to see the real player emerge, offering his sublime blend of scoring and playmaking skills.
“I think he wanted it so bad that he got over-aroused,” said Hanson. “On Thursday, he wasn’t aggressive. He was passive and (UFV) did a really good job of collapsing on him, so he didn’t have a lot of room to get get to the rim and operate. Tonight, we tweaked some things to help him and he made some plays. Then he hit some shots, and that gave him the confidence to get over the hump.”
From UBC’s perspective, Cohee’s about face was imperative. Yet the flipping of scripts by both teams was the central theme of Friday’s game.
*A Fraser Valley team which hit 17 three-pointers in Thursday’s opener at a 45 per cent clip was held to just eight at a 26 per cent success rate on Friday.
*UBC point guard Mason Bourcier, who battled through a 1-for-6 shooting night Thursday, brought every phase of his game to the table Friday, penetrating, setting tempo, scoring 12 points, and dishing six assists against 34 turnover-free minutes.
*Fraser Valley point guard Parm Bains, who on Thursday led the Cascades with 26 points and shot 5-of-10 from distance, was held to a season-low two points on 1-of-7 shooting.
*Cascades forward Sukhman Sandhu, who scored 21 points and hit four treys Thursday was limited to just seven points Friday.
“Obviously you try to make things hard for the other team’s main scoring scoring options,” said Fraser Valley head coach Adam Friesen. “Some days you’re successful and some days not as much. Jadon rebounded really well, which we totally expected that he would. He’s a great player but I know our guys, just like theirs, are going to be excited for tomorrow.”
There were players who maintained their level of performance from one night to the next, most notably UFV’s Mark Johnson followed 17 points and 18 rebounds on Thursday with a team-high 19 points and six rebounds on Friday, and UBC forward Grant Shephard, who was the game’s high scorer both nights with 21 points and 10 rebounds Friday, after 29 points and 12 rebounds Thursday.
“We were upset from last night and desperate to win,” admitted UBC guard Manroop Clair, who not only scored 16 points in the win but defended Parm Bains the entire game. “We showed a lot of heart today, but it’s just one game and I’ll preach that to the guys.”
Hanson, who also copped to a sleepless night Thursday, knows the game of chess won’t let up for another day.
“I love it, it’s playoff basketball,” the UBC coach said. “The intensity of the game was just wild, on both sides. I wish we could have more games like this during the regular season to get you better ready for this kind of thing. I’m glad we’re playing at home, but our backs are still against the wall. There isn’t a tomorrow unless you win. I thought it was a bit of a blood-bath tonight and I think its going to be more of the same tomorrow. It’s going to be a super-intense game.”
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