With Pacific Academy's Jordan Ram (rear) lurking, St. Patrick's Heracles Mai tries to keep his dribble alive during quarterfinal action Sunday during the BC junior boys championships at the Langley Events Centre. (Photo by Ryan Molag property Langley Events Centre-TFSE 2024. All Rights Reserved)
Feature High School Boys Basketball

B.C. Junior boys 2024 Elite 8: St. Pat’s beats Pacific Academy in OT thriller to end Cinderella run of 22nd-seeded Breakers!

By Nic Flint (Special for Varsity Letters)

LANGLEY — On paper, this was supposed to be a walk in the park for the top-seeded St. Patrick’s Celtics of Vancouver as they took on the 22nd-seeded Pacific Academy Breakers of Surrey in the quarterfinal round Saturday as B.C. junior boys basketball championships hit the midway mark of a four-day run at the LEC.

That was as far as the David vs. Goliath matchup would go however, as the Breakers showed why they deserved to be one of the tournament’s final eight teams.

Coming off of upset wins over No. 11 South Kamloops and No. 6 Abbotsford Christian, Pacific Academy started off with lots of energy on the defensive end, holding the Celtics to just nine points in the first quarter.

On the offensive end, it was the Breakers’ one-two punch of point guard Judah Ashbee and forward Adriel Bougeup that led the way.

Yet it wasn’t long before St. Pat’s coaching began to make the difference.

As soon as the second quarter started, the Celtics began to double-team Ashbee at the top, forcing him to get rid of the ball and forcing someone else to make a play.

That adjustment caused several Pacific Academy turnovers which led to easy scores for the Celtics. The Breakers hung in there despite the coaching adjustment from the other side, and actually went into halftime with a 19-18 lead.

The second half went along without much change; both teams were unable to gain a big lead on the other as both defences played very well, not allowing offensive rebounds and second-chance points.

As the final few minutes of the fourth quarter approached, neither team could get ahead more than three points, but then with about two minutes remaining, Ashbee banked in a three-pointer from about six-feet beyond the arc to snap a tie.

After exchanging free throws, it came down to the last 16 seconds with the Celtics down two with the ball.

With the ball in the hands of Riley Santa Juana as he drove to the right, a second Breakers’ defender came to stop him. Santa Juana dished a perfect bounce pass to Heracles Mai who laid the ball in with a couple seconds to tie the game and send it to overtime.

Speaking with assistant coach Nap Santos after the game about the game-tying layup to send it to overtime: “Those passes were something that we worked on. We knew that they were going to leave (Heracles) Mai and he would be wide open, so we kind of looked to fake a layup and pass it to him to get a put back.”

Once in the overtime, it was the championship experience of the Celtics which put them over the top as they outscored the Breakers 8-5 in the extra time.

Ashbee finished the game with 18 points in the loss, along with Bougeup who added a further 13. Leading scorers for the Celtics was Mai who ended the game with 16, along with Santa Juana who had 15.

St. Pat’s will move on to play Vancouver College tomorrow night, for a spot in Tuesday’s B.C. championship final game. 

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