All our Final Four tickets have been punched and the 2023 B.C. junior boys semifinals have just two of its Top 10 seeds standing. We’ve got No. 1, No. 7, No. 11 and No. 12 remaining!
TOP SIDE DRAW
No. 1 TAMANAWIS 63 No. 8 ST. PATRICK’S 51
LANGLEY — Sayvic Dhami’s shooting slump here at the 53rd annual B.C. junior boys basketball tournament was about as short-lived as the first 10 quarters he played in, and all prior to the second half of Sunday’s provincial quarterfinal clash against Vancouver’s St. Patrick’s Celtics.
Then, about as quickly as it started, it end.
Boom. Pow. Whoosh. Boom Pow. Swish.
Six straight three-point buckets spanning the third and fourth quarters, a streak of marksmanship which helped turn back the building wave of the Celtics and lift the No. 1-seeded Wildcats to both a 63-51 victory, and an 8 p.m. date against Port Moody’s No. 12 Heritage Woods Kodiaks in the provincial semifinals on Monday.
“I knew they were going to start dropping,” an understated Dhami said after the win, one in which he scored 20 of his game-high 22 points in the second half.
“They hadn’t all tournament long,” he continued, referencing Wildcats’ wins Saturday over both Langley’s R.E. Mountain and Burnaby Mountain. “I was just waiting. I knew it was going to start happening.”
So did Tammy head coach Aurel David, whose belief in Dhami is as strong as they come.
“What’s funny is that no one noticed that he missed every single shot in the first half, OK?” stated David of Dhami. “The thing is, as long as we play with decisiveness, I think we’re in a good place. So I told him ‘If you are wide open shoot it with conviction.’”
The fact that all six of Dhami’s made baskets were triples seem to accentuate the fact that to gain separation against the Celtics, Tamanawis needed to be as efficient as possible.
The Celtics were themselves a three-point shooting juggernaut.
Jakobi Metabalos and Daniel Geppert each stroked five treys, finishing with 21 and 15 points respectively. Riley Santa Juana added 11 more.
Tray Belanger scored all of his 13 points in the first half for the winners, while Sunny Dhami added 12 and Anand Sandhu 10 more.
No. 12 HERITAGE WOODS 70 No. 4 SULLIVAN HEIGHTS 58
LANGLEY — Which single player is the face of the 2022-23 Heritage Woods Kodiaks junior boys basketball team?
If you watch the ways in which Kodiaks’ head coach Roj Johal subbed, mixed and matched her deep and talented roster on Sunday here in the provincial quarterfinals, you’d be convinced there really isn’t one.
And after the Kodiaks pulled away from Surrey’s Sullivan Heights Stars down the stretch drive Sunday at the Langley Events Centre, the proof was in the pudding.
Starting forward Joseph Thompson scored 14 of his team-high 18 points in the first half, and in the second he got great support from teammate Farris Essandoh, who came off the bench to score nine of his 13 over the final two quarters.
Ditto for starting guards Afu Bullock (13 points) and Dylan Wallace (six points), who combined for 19 points, then got a huge boost off the pine from Matthew Purdy’s 11 points, including three three-pointers.
“One of the things I love about this team is that there is no one individual,” said Johal, who also looked more to 6-foot-7 post Ben Pearson in the second half, where he scored all seven of his points. “They really distribute the ball well and I am just so proud of them for that.. and just the constant effort they put in.”
For Heritage Woods, the foe was very recognizable.
Last season, the Port Moody-based Kodiaks defeated Sullivan Heights in the Grade 9 B.C. championship semifinals before losing to Vancouver College in the title game. The Stars went on to finish third.
“They are a great team and we came in here feeling like ‘OK, we’re confident, but it could go either way,’” said Johal. “They have No. 8 (Nick Baxter) and he is a great player so we had to make sure that we made him pass it around a bit more.”
Baxter, in fact, was every bit as good as advertised.
The talented, attack-minded guard delivered a game-high 23-point performance, which included 15 trips to the stripe (11-of-15).
Ethan Hugall added 13 points, while Aryan Jhaj came off the bench to score seven for the Stars.
The Kodiaks will play the winner of Sunday’s quarterfinal between Surrey’s No. 1-seeded Tamanawis Wildcats and the No. 8-seeded St. Patrick’s Celtics of Vancouver in an 8 p.m. semifinal game on Monday.
Heritage Woods has not faced either this season.
All Johal knows is that her team is enjoying playing the game like never before.
“It’s so exciting, the boys are so poroud of themsleves and they have just jelled together and been positive and it has been fabulous to see their smiles.”
BOTTOM HALF DRAW
No. 11 ST. THOMAS MORE 45 No. 3 BURNABY SOUTH 40
LANGLEY — It’s one thing to preach defence.
It’s another entirely to practice it, to let it seep deeply into your basketball DNA.
And for the St. Thomas More Knights, who so clearly prescribe to the latter, the dominant part of their hoops persona stood strong in the face of their own fourth-quarter offensive struggles on Sunday afternoon, carrying the 11th-seeded Knights to victory over the No. 3-seeded Burnaby South Rebels in an all-city clash for a berth in Monday’s Final Four here at the B.C. junior boys championships.
“You know, our identity is defence, and that’s something we’ve preached all year, and it’s nice to put it together in the biggest moments,” explained STM head coach Corbin Castres, whose team will tip off against Langley’s No. 7-seeded Brookswood Bobcats in a 6:30 p.m. semifinal on the Langley Event Centre’s South Court.
Burnaby South, a team which has built its senior varsity success on the shoulders of excellent junior teams over the past number of years, looked ready to put together their own kind of game-changing fourth quarter, starting the final frame off on an 8-0 run, the streak putting the Rebels ahead briefly at 37-36.
Yet with the STM defence pulling up its socks, the Knights managed to muster just enough offence to compliment its defence, despite the fact that that number wound up being a meagre nine points.
Thankfully, from the Knights’ perspective, there was a player like Isaac Jimenez, the 5-foot-7 Grade 10 guard, who despite scoring just three points, was worth his weight in gold at the other end of the floor, typifying the traits which spread through the STM defence just when his team needed it most.
“He’s got passion, he’s a dog, man,” Castres said of Jimenez. “He wants to get after it. He wants to make his teammates better. He does the dirty things for us. He’s got a thankless job defending, doing all the dirty stuff for our guys. So to see him have a really great game like this, it means a lot to me.”
What will also mean a lot to STM’s hoops faithful is the fact that the win over Burnbay South guarantees at least the team’s third-best performance all-time at junior boys provincials.
The Knights, of course, would love to eqaul the finish of the school’s 1988 championship team exactly 35 years later.
STM finished second in 1986, fourth in 1997 and sixth in 2015.
Zeru Abera led the winners with 18 points, while Jacob Oreta added 15 more.
Burnaby South got 17 points from Llorikk Gutierrez and nine more from Tyler Crossley.
— with files from Nic Flint
No. 7 BROOKSWOOD 80 No. 12 ELGIN PARK 54
LANGLEY — Logan Stewart hadn’t led his Brookswood Bobcats in scoring over its first two games here at the B.C. junior boys basketball championships.
Yet if you watched his brand of on-court generalship, you could see that the 6-foot-4 Grade 10 superstar is most happy when he is safe in the knowledge that his entire team, first and foremost, is thriving in its best state of mind.
With those questions answered, what might the kid on Canada Basketball’s Under-16 radar elect to do in a game whose carrot was a berth in Monday’s Final Four?
Well, in his team’s decisive win over an Elgin Park Orcas squad fresh off a Sweet 16 win over No. 2-seed Vancouver College, the answer was obvious.
Stewart stuffed the stat sheet with aplomb, finishing from the outside (with three triples), finishing on the inside (going 12-of-13 from the free throw line) and ultimately finishing with 37 points over what is a JV-regulation 32-minute contest.
“He’s dynamic, he’s got some skills and he’s an athlete,” said his dad, Brookswood head coach Kelsey Stewart. “He’s got a bright future ahead.”
Yet despite the younger Stewart’s prolific outpouring of points and more, it did nothing to hinder the rest of the Bobcats’ rotation.
Eight more treys rained down, including four from running mate Jayden Kenyon as part of his 19-point outing.
Jovan Lozowchuk hit a pair of treys and finished with eight points.
Jacob Nicol and Noah Weiss each scored a dozen points for the Orcas, who just a day earlier had risen to an emotional zenith in its signature win over Vancouver College. Elijah Weiss added 10 points in the loss.
Brookswood’s best-ever junior boys finish came in 1997 when it finished second to SMUS of Victoria.
—With files from Nic Flint
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.