LANGLEY — We’ve gone final for the night.
Here are the recaps of tonight’s two Double-A semifinal contests.
ALL STORIES BY AARON MARTIN (Special for Varsity Letters)
2 KING GEORGE 74 NO. 6 JOHN BARNSBY 48
LANGLEY, BC – The Dragons will have one more to chance to roar on the biggest stage.
The No 2-ranked King George squad earned their place in the BC Senior Boys AA championship finals on Friday night, notching a dominant 74-48 win over the sixth-ranked John Barnsby Bulldogs to advance.
Darko Karac paced the Dragons attack with 22 points, eight rebounds, and five assists. Meanwhile, captain Rishin Uppal had was 4-of-14 from deep in a 19-point effort, and Dionycius Bakare notched a triple double of 12 points and 13 boards. Jonny Durkan and Cohen Cadieux both posted a team-high 13 points apiece for the Bulldogs.
The Dragons’ length on defense wreaked havoc from the get-go, as they consistently disrupted the Bulldogs’ offensive flow and never let them settle in for a clean look. The Dragons took the lead off the opening possession and never relinquished it. Their size allowed them to consistently force their way inside and score from in tight. Eventually, that opened up the deep shots, and Uppal, in particular, took advantage.
As good as his squad looked on the court, head coach Darko Kulic was quick to point to their work off the court as the key to their win.
“”We have a saying – ‘Preparation is key to Separation’,” explained the coach. “Our whole team – our fans, coaching staff, our community, and especially our players – they’re laser-focused right now. I’ve had some teams, where you say go to bed and you know they’re up. With these guys, if I tell them to go to sleep at 10, I trust that they’ll do it. Because they know that every little thing makes a difference.”
Up 40-25 at half and 64-41 after three quarters, the fourth saw the Dragons play near-perfect defense in their attempts to hold the lead.
As the game on both sides slowed down to a crawl, a lengthy scoring drought was finally broken by the Dragons over five minutes into the final quarter. It wasn’t until just over three minutes left that the Bulldogs sank their first bucket of the frame.
The Dragons await their championship opponent, as the top-ranked Brentwood College (Oak Bay) are in the midst their semifinal matchup against the reigning AA champion Westsyde Whundas as of this story being written. Whomever they face, the Dragons’ championship bid is slated for a 3:15 pm tip-off in the Langley Events Centre’s Arena Bowl.
1 BRENTWOOD COLLEGE 87 NO. 12 WESTSYDE 47
LANGLEY, BC – The seemingly inevitable is now reality.
The top two seeds in the pre-tournament rankings, No 1-ranked Brentwood College and the No 2-ranked King George Dragons, will square off Saturday evening in the BC Senior Boys Double-A Championship finals. Both sides have been on a collision course from the tournament’s opening night, dominating every opponent en route to this final clash of titans.
The team from Mill Bay earned their title shot in emphatic fashion on Friday night, scoring a dominant 87-47 win over the No 12-ranked Westsyde Whundas. Dylan Gage did a bit of everything for Brentwood, notching a team-high 22 points, five boards, and five assists.
Milan Pasquale (three-of-nine from deep with 19 points) and Jayden Lust (14 points) were also major factors as the Vancouver Island champs have now won their three tournament games by an average margin of 36.3 points
Gage, who was marked very tightly in the game’s early stages, shifted to a facilitator role from the onset. The guard drew traffic and quickly dished out, hitting Pasquale or Lust for open looks on a few occasions in the opening minutes. After Brentwood opened with an 8-0 run, Westsyde did well to slow the pace down and ease into more of a back-and-forth in the latter half. By the end of the first, that 8-point gap remained at 20-12 for Brentwood.
And then Brentwood blew the doors off.
To open the second, Lust hit a three seemingly before the crowd could sit back down in their seats. Gremaud hit the next shot, a hard-fought layup from in tight, but that was the extent of the Whundas’ pushback.
Brentwood then seemed to hit another gear on the defensive end, as they forced several turnovers and continued to hit their own shots at every turn. Pasquale, Gage and Lust seemed to be everywhere, with a deep corner three capping off a frenetic 12-0 run to put the Island side up 37-14.
The result was almost foregone by halftime, with Brentwood leading 50-21.
Westsyde seemed to get back to their defensive roots in the third quarter, harassing Brentwood seemingly the instant they got their hands on the ball. Coupling their rediscovered defensive tenacity with some excellent board work and a few opportunistic makes, the Whundas outscored Brentwood 16-13 over the course of the third, punctuated by a Cason Scott corner three in the frame’s dying seconds.
For the game, Gremaud led the Whundas with 19 points and four rebounds.
“We may have gotten a bit too comfortable,” said Gage of his team’s third quarter dip. “But the truth of it is that Westsyde is a damn good team. They got a bit unlucky, and overall, it probably wasn’t their best game. But I think that quarter is an idea of what very well could have happened if they had been at their best.”
Still armed with a 63-37 lead heading into the final stanza, Brentwood continued to press despite having the game in hand. Clawing for every loose ball and attacking the glass, Brentwood hit four threes in the fourth quarter, making a final statement as they roll into the finals in peak form.
“Not at all,” quipped Gage when asked if he had scouted his championship opponent. “We’re not going in completely blind though. We have a pretty good rivalry, us and King George. It’ll be good to be across from [Dragons’ head coach] Darko [Kulic] again. I think our teams really respect each other, and it’s going to be a healthy, competitive game. It’s going to be fun.”
The Double-A title bout between Brentwood College and King George will get underway at 3:15 pm tomorrow afternoon in the LEC’s Arena Bowl.
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