LANGLEY — You can’t blame the Duchess Park Condors senior boys basketball team for having a case of the down payment blues.
Yet while it’s true that Prince George’s Condors have been paying their dues at the B.C. Triple A championships for five straight seasons without the ultimate payoff, their climb has been steady and their collected experiences vast.
Beginning with back-to-back opening round losses at the provincial tourney in 2016 and ’17, Duchess Park has since improved each season with a 62-44 quarterfinal loss to South Kamloops in 2018, a 62-61 semifinal loss to North Delta in 2019, and of course earlier this month a 79-67 championship finals loss to Chilliwack’s G.W. Graham Grizzlies.
Consider that both South Kam and North Delta, in the years in which they defeated the Condors, also both went on to win B.C. titles, and you could say that perhaps no program in recent boys history is as due to win it all as the group guided the past three seasons by alumnus Jordan Yu, also a former UBC Thunderbird guard.
“We’ll be back,” Yu said from the post-game floor of LEC’s Arena Court on March 7 after congratulating the Grizzlies, another team which had paid its dues, on winning its first title in program history.
Indeed, behind one of the most dynamic rising seniors in B.C., Duchess Park has been ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll ahead of the 2020-21 season. Full Top 10 is below.
Caleb Lyons, the 6-foot-4 guard/forward, came into the provincials averaging 17 points-per-game, but as has been the case throughout his career, was at his best when the stakes were highest.
Surrounded by seniors in the starting lineup, Lyons was nonetheless the go-to scorer, dropping a team-high 28 points in an 84-68 quarterfinal win over Pitt Meadows, a team co-high 15 points in its 61-43 semifinal win over Sir Charles Tupper, and a game-high 25 points in the finals loss to the Grizzlies.
Earlier in the season, in the finals of the STM Chancellor, Lyons dropped a game-high 35 in a 108-88 win over G.W. Graham.
This coming season, he’ll be joined by rising Grade 11 guard Cole Laing, poised and ready for a breakout campaign, as well as rising senior guard Tanner Cruz and 6-foot-5 rising senior forward Aedan Aksenchuk.
Checking in at No. 2 are Vancouver’s Magee Lions, who behind the play of three current rising seniors, qualified for the B.C.’s for the first time in 12 years earlier this month.
The Lions will bring size in returning players Rourke Macdonald and Daniel Rocha-Zandbergen, each 6-foot-4, and 6-foot-5 Aaron Ungprasert.
As Grade 11s, that trio combined to averages 40 points and 27 rebounds per game for head coach Kevin Tyfting.
Richmond’s R.A. McMath Wildcats failed to qualify for the B.C.s’ coming out of a very tough South Fraser zone, yet the near entirety of its team was represented by the 2019 B.C. junior varsity runners-up team, which returns older and wiser in 2020-21 with rising seniors like Travis Hamberger, Rio Hutchful and Mike Kitka.
With all of that in mind, head coach Jon Acob’s Wildcats have earned the No. 3 ranking.
On a similar note, Vancouver’s St. Patrick’s Celtics fashioned a successful senior varsity campaign in 2019-20, one which saw them qualify for the provincials.
Meanwhile, its JV team led by provincial MVP Irish Coquia, beat Vancouver’s Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs to win the B.C. junior title.
St. Pat’s will start the season at No. 4.
Here’s the entire B.C. senior boys Triple-A Top 10 preseason rankings:
1 Duchess Park Condors (Prince George)
2 Magee Lions (Vancouver)
3 R.A. McMath Wildcats (Richmond)
4 St. Patricks Celtics (Vancouver)
5 MEI Eagles (Abbotsford)
6 A.R. MacNeill Ravens (Richmond)
7 G.W. Graham Grizzlies (Chilliwack)
8 Byrne Creek Bulldogs (Burnaby)
9 St. Michaels University School Blue Jags (Victoria)
10 Okanagan Mission Huskies (Kelowna)
Honourable mention — Elgin Park Orcas (Surrey), Sir Charles Tupper Tigers (Vancouver), St. Thomas More Knights (Burnaby), Mark Isfeld Ice (Courtenay), Carson Graham Eagles (North Vancouver)
If you’re reading this story or viewing these photos on any website other than one belonging to a university athletic department, it has been taken without appropriate permission. In these challenging times, true journalism will survive only through your dedicated support and loyalty. VarsityLetters.ca and all of its exclusive content has been created to serve B.C.’s high school and university sports community with hard work, integrity and respect. Feel free to drop us a line any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.