LANGLEY — Welcome to Day 2 of the 2023 B.C. senior boys high school basketball championships.
It’s Elite 8 Thursday and we will give you the full scoop here.
Please check back throughout the day for coverage of all four quarterfinal games at this tier.
TOP HALF DRAW
STORIES BY AARON MARTIN (Special for Varsity Letters)
NO. 2 KING GEORGE 85 NO. 10 LANGLEY CHRISTIAN 51
LANGLEY – The No. 2-ranked King George Dragons put their championhip-level depth on display on Thursday evening, as four Dragons hit double-digit points in an 85-51 quarterfinal win over the No 10-ranked Langley Christian Lightning at the B.C. senior boys Double-A championships.
“It was a good team that we played,” said Dragons captain Rishin Uppal. “They’re smart and they hustle. I think we controlled what we could control and put our best effort forward.”
Grade 10 wing Dionycius Bakare led the Dragons’ attack with 22 points, while guard Darko Karac was right behind with 21. Faisal Shawwa was a force inside, posting 14 points while snagging seemingly every rebound. Willem Van Huizen was the driving force of the Lightning offense, knocking down a few triples as part of a team-high 19 points.
“It’s definitely a blessing,” Uppal noted of the Dragons’ offensive firepower up and down the lineup. “We all have confidence that we can make any shot, and anyone else can make any shot. It lets us be flexible play different ways.”
Where the Dragons came out on a white-hot 10-0 run in their win over the Fernie Falcons last night, the Lightning did well to hold serve in Thursday’s opening quarter.
With the Lightning answering near every shot, King George held just an 18-15 lead after the opening 10 minutes. Van Huizen alone had eight points in the quarter.
Up 28-25 midway through the second, King George seemed to find another gear. The Dragons ripped off a 14-0 run over the half’s final few minutes. It was a clinic from the Sea-to-Sky champs, with a Bakare three-ball serving as an exclamation mark.
After a thrilling comeback against Lambrick Park in their opener, the Lightning were unable to strike twice in front of an overwhelming Dragons squad. King George never let Langley Christian off the mat, as their lead never dipped below 15 points in the second half.
The Dragons’ next opponent is already locked in – earlier in the day, No 6-ranked John Barsby Bulldogs punched their ticket to the semis in spectacular fashion, steamrolling the No 3-ranked Pacific Academy Breakers 83-59.
With a shot at the championship showdown on the line, the Dragons and Breakers are set to tip-off at 7:00 pm tomorrow evening on the Langley Event Centre’s South Court.
6 JOHN BARSBY 83 NO. 3 PACIFIC ACADEMY 59
LANGLEY, BC – The No 6-ranked John Barsby Bulldogs staked their claim as one of the province’s best on Thursday afternoon, as they took an 83-59 decision over the No 3-ranked Pacific Academy Breakers to earn their place in the B.C. senior boys Double-A championships’ final four.
Grade 11 guard Jonny Durkan was phenomenal, getting to the line several times and making his shots count from all over the court. The 6-foot-1 Durkan finished with a game-high 25 points, while fellow guard Kai Rednour Bruckman and senior forward Parker Moscrip finished with 19 and 18 points, respectively.
Jaden Mesfin provided most of the offensive pushback for the Breakers, as his 23 points were near double the team’s next-highest scorer (Simon Akindele with 12).
While the Bulldogs were full value throughout the entire contest, they really pulled away with a dominant fourth quarter. Barsby never let up, outscoring the Breakers 29-17 over the final frame, including an emphatic 10-0 game-ending run to put any thoughts of a comeback to rest.
The Bulldogs will be gunning for another upset in the semifinals, as they prepare to face the No 2-ranked King George Dragons, who are coming off dominant wins over the Fernie Falcons and Langley Christian Lightning.
The Bulldogs and Dragons will take the stage at the LEC’s Centre Court tomorrow evening, with the semifinals contest slated for a 7:00 pm tip-off.
BOTTOM HALF DRAW
1 BRENTWOOD COLLEGE 84 NO. 9 SUMMERLAND 47
LANGLEY — Behind an electric performance from senior guard Dylan Gage, Brentwood College (Mill Bay) continued to justify their No 1 ranking on Thursday night, as they overwhelmed the No 9-ranked Summerland Rockets 84-47 and forced their way into the Double-A championship semifinals.
Powering Brentwood to their second straight win by more than 30 points, Gage was an absolute flamethrower from the jump. The senior, who scored 12 of his game-high 31 points in the opening frame, knocked down five triples as the focal point of the Brentwood attack.
Head coach Blake Gage was quick to spread around the credit
“We have different guys who can all step up,” said Gage. “Tonight, it was Dylan, which was great, but we have a lot of different weapons and guys that can make the difference. But the great thing about Dylan is that he’s willing to fill any role, do anything, to help the team win.”
Keyed by those 12 points from Gage, Brentwood pressed early and often in the first quarter, eventually building to a 24-14 lead at the break. Brentwood continued to pull away in the second, seemingly hitting two shots for each Summerland make. Gage knocked down three of his triples during an electric run in the back half of the frame, with the Vancouver Island champs stretching their advantage to 48-23.
The Rockets made a valiant push in the third quarter, as seven different Summerland players hit the scoresheet in the third alone. Their valiant efforts kept Brentwood from extending their lead in the quarter, and that margin remained until well into the fourth. A late 12-0 run from Brentwood’s reserves served as the game’s final points.
“I was proud of our boys’ effort,” said Gage. “At times, we may have been a bit undisciplined, but overall, we worked hard. Full credit to the Rockets – they’re a bit young, but they’re well-coached, never quit, and they made us work for everything tonight.”
Brentwood will now turn their attention towards the semifinals, as they await the winner of tonight’s clash between the No 4-ranked St. Thomas Aquinas Fighting Saints and the No. 12-ranked (and reigning champion) Westsyde Whundas.
12 WESTSYDE 60 NO. 4 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 45
LANGLEY, BC – Someone forgot to tell the 12th-ranked Westsyde Whundas they were the underdogs on Thursday night, as they turned a spectacular defensive performance into a 55-40 upset of the No 4-ranked St. Thomas Aquinas Fighting Saints. The reigning B.C. senior boys Double-A champs will return to the semis once more, carrying as much momentum as anyone in the tournament.
Thursday’s game featured a showdown of two of the province’s most productive big men in Westsyde senior Caleb Gremaud and the Fighting Saints’ 6-foot-9 forward Declan Cutler. Gremaud got the better of his St. Thomas counterpart on both ends of the court, as he finished with a game-high 21 points, and maybe making more of an impact on defense.
Alongside centre Colton Meikle and forward Cason Scott, both 6-foot-5, the 6-foot-6 Gremaud was instrumental in shutting down Cutler. The Fighting Saints star, who came into the tournament averaging 25 points a game, finished with just 13 as he was rarely afforded the room to breathe, let alone take an open shot.
The Whundas’ first half was near perfect in the defensive end. Their guards, especially senior Jeremy McInnis, were aggressive and forced several turnovers. Their trio of big men clogged the lanes, forcing Westsyde into both poor passes and low-percentage shots. By the end of the first half, the score was just 33-20.
“Tonight was just heart, hustle, and being physical,” said Whundas head coach AJ McInnis. “Westsyde basketball, we just play tough, force teams to play our way, and try and beat them up along the way. Tonight, we brought a lot of physicality on defense and that really won it for us.”
Continuing the first half’s not-so-torrid scoring, the teams combined for just eight points by the midway mark of the third frame. Westsyde’s lead had, at one point, stretched to as many as 18.
However, the Whundas’ defensive aggression caught up to them in the latter half of the quarter. With the Saints in the bonus for the third’s final few minutes, the tide began to turn. Saints guard Zak Sharpe provided a spark off the bench, putting up nine points as part of a 13-3 St. Thomas Aquinas run.
Heading into the fourth, the Fighting Saints had whittled the Westsyde lead down to just 45-39.
The Whundas’ defense re-emerged to open the fourth, as Gremaud, Scott, and Meikle seemed nigh-impenetrable inside. And unlike the third frame, Westsyde only fouled once in the first eight minutes of the fourth.
If there was a single-play microcosm of the larger game, it came when Westsyde was up 52-43 with just two minutes left. As the Fighting Saints were racing up the court, McInnis stripped a St. Thomas guard in transition, then found a streaking Scott for a tough finish.
Westsyde won’t have much time to revel in their upset, as they now face an even bigger test in the No. 1-ranked Brentwood College. However, neither the Whundas nor their coaches are shirking the challenge.
“We’ve done our scout and watched our videos,” said McInnis of their upcoming opponent. “Brentwood is a terrific team and I’m excited about tomorrow. I think the boys are too.”
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