BURNABY — Hey, why not a little March Madness in the middle of January?
That magic month of basketball excitement is right where the North Delta Huskies pretended to be this week, and on Saturday, with their veteran assistant coach setting the scene, B.C.’s No. 1-ranked Triple A team finished it all off in style at St. Thomas More’s Chancellor Invitational.
“Coach Edwards used the analogy that we needed to treat this tournament like the provincial tournament,” said Huskies head coach Jesse Hundal of Bill Edwards, who back in the 1980s and early 1990s would take his North Delta teams to the Chancellor, the only senior boys tournament in the province to mimic the same four-wins-in-four-days assignment required to win the B.C. tournament.
“We executed,” Hundal said after the Huskies beat the No. 2-ranked Sir Charles Tupper Tigers of East Vancouver 78-63 in the title tilt. “It was a big step for our program. We wanted to see mentally what we could do, and the players showed us that when they prepared like they can, that good things will happen.”
(full tournament all-stars below)
In Friday’s semifinal win over Burnaby’s Byrne Creek Bulldogs, North Delta’s star senior guard Suraj Gahir applauded the myriad ways in which the rest of the team’s line-up was continuing to take bigger steps forward.
On Saturday, Gahir scored a game-high 29 points, finding ways around the face-guarding attention he was getting from the Tupper defence en route to being named tournament MVP.
But the bonus was that the Huskies produced two other double-figure scorers, led by the shooting of Jagraj Johal, who hit four treys and finished with 20 points.
“Jag is a shooter and when he is on, he is on,” said Hundal. “And today, he was on. He was focused and dialed in. We told him not to go out there and make things bigger than they were. We told him to have fun.”
Point guard Arun Atker added 12 points, while Ryan Cabico added seven, the latter’s all coming in the fourth quarter as the Huskies built their lead to 78-54 before Tupper scored the final nine points of the game. Later, both Atker and Cabico were chosen to the tournament’s first all-star team.
The Tigers were in it at the half, trailing just 41-35, but they lost their way in the second half, falling to North Delta for the second time this season.
Mitchell Morgan led the Tigers with 14 points, Simon Crossfield added 13 and both Norben Bulosan and Matt Dunkerley each scored 11 points.
Yet any way you slice it, it was Gahir’s night.
“When I tell Suraj during a game ‘I need you’ he always tells me ‘I got you,’” a proud Hundal relayed. “He is a prime time player. The higher the stakes, the more he loves it.”
BYRNE CREEK 66 WEST VANCOUVER 61
Mukhtar Afadish is still just a 10th grader but his game-high 21 points, including three treys, helped pave the way for a bronze medal finish for Burnaby’s Bulldogs, who claimed a five-point win over the Quad A Highlanders.
Knotted at 43-43 going into the fourth quarter, Byrne Creek head coach Bal Dhillon leaned on his senior pair of forward Bithow Wan and point guard Sufi Ahmed.
Wan totalled 18 points on the night, and Ahmed 17 with three treys. But perhaps their most clutch performances were hitting all six of their combined free throws over the fourth quarter.
Parsa Zadeh led the Highlanders with 20 points, while Callum Dye and Marcus Dunn each supplied 10 points.
Suraj Gahir (North Delta)
Arun Atker (north delta), Ryan Cabico (North Delta), Simon Crossfield (Sir Charles Tupper), Gaurab Acharya (Sir Charles Tupper), Norben Bulosan (Sir Charles Tupper).
Dan Zimmerman (Duchess Park), Muhktar Afadish (Byrne Creek), Bithow Wan (Byrne Creek), Marcus Dunn (West Vancouver), Parsa Shokrollahy Zadeh (West Vancouver).
Gurkaran Mangat (Rick Hansen), Natrone Gonzales (R.A. McMath), Travis Hamberger (R.A. McMath), Soren Erricson (Duchess Park), Harrison Archer (Argyle).
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