Tupper's Gaurab Acharya has been a Tigers' hoops camper since kindergarten. Now he's got the East Van school in the BC JV Final Four. (VarsityLetters.ca photo -- Howard Tsumura)
Feature High School Boys Basketball

East Van growl: These Tupper Tigers have claws and game!

LANGLEY — For over a decade, Gaurab Acharya has been living the Sir Charles Tupper Secondary basketball dream.

On Sunday, as the Telus B.C. junior boys basketball championships reached the quarterfinal stage at the Langley Events Centre, the compact 5-foot-6 guard was helping lead a balanced attack as the Tigers toppled the Pitt Meadows Marauders 65-42.

For Acharya and his teammates, it was another step closer to the dream of winning a provincial title for the East Vancouver school, which has never been rich in facilities but always wealthy in terms of the basketball/life experiences gleaned by all its players.

On Sunday, once the Tigers figured things out against the taller Marauders, their brand of high-octane offence was off to the races.

Tupper used a pressure-induced defence to help its attack, then started to run, putting up a flurry of third-quarter treys during a game-changing 23-5 run which put them up 50-33 heading into the fourth quarter.

And the victory, engineered from the bench by coaches and former Tupper players Ron Ronquillo and DJ Sugue, reflected the personality of the program’s architect, senior varsity head coach Jeff Gourley.

“He means everything to all of us,” said Acharya of Gourley who re-invigorated a long-dormant program which over the past decade has produced next-level players like Cam Smythe, Warren Leung and James Lum. “I’ve been coming to his summer camps since kindergarten. He sets the bar high for us.”

Added Ronquillo: “We want to run just the same way, we love to get our shots up. But today it started with our defence. We were a little surprised by their size a bit to start the game but we were able to get it going.”

The Tigers’ guard pairing of Acharya (13 points) and Norben Bulosan (12) were dynamic throughout. Forwards Joven Dhillon and Simon Crossfield added 13 and nine points respectively, while 6-foot-5 forward Toni Maric, on a team filled with sub-6-footers, was a difference-maker with 18 points.

Tupper’s Norben Bulosan (right) puts the giddy-up in the Tigers’ high-octance offence. (VarsityLetters.ca photo by Howard Tsumura)

Cole Leon led Pitt with 10 points while Iman Ostovari added nine.

Ronquillo compares Maric to past great Leung as a big body with fluid moves, a great face-up shot and the ability to battle down low. A large part of the junior Tupper’s main rotation has played at the senior varsity level.

The current group of Tupper juniors have won three straight Vancouver city titles, going a combined 37-0 in leauge and city playoffs over that span.

“We’re outrageously proud of these guys,” said Gourley.

Toni Maric of the Tupper Tigers looks like the second coming of ex-great Warren Leung. (VarsityLetters.ca photo by Howard Tsumura)

The No. 2-seeded Tigers will face the No. 11-seeded North Delta Huskies in a 6 p.m. semifinal on the South Court at the LEC.

On the other side of championships draw Sunday, two other quarterfinal games were played.

*The West Vancouver Highlanders opened the game on 19-4 first-quarter run and built their lead to 30 points en route to a 57-39 win over Langley’s R.E. Mountain Eagles.

The Highlanders’ balanced scoring was led by the 14 points of Erik Neussel 14. Eason Cui added eight points. The Eagles run on the championship side of the draw ended as Jarrett Jacobs scored a game-high 21 points in defeat.

*The Burnaby South Rebels’ senior varsity team came up one spot shy of berth in the provincial championships but their juniors are in the B.C. Final Four.

Baltej Sohal scored a game-high 26 points while Jiordano Khan added 18 more as the Rebels rolled to a 78-54 win over Kelowna’s upset-minded Okanagan-Mission Huskies.

OKM had opened the tournament by upsetting No. 1-seeded Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers of Surrey.

Jaden De Leon added 12 for the Rebels while Emir Krupic added 10.

Harrison Bortolon and Matty Kopp added a dozen each in the loss for the Huskies.

No. 4 West Vancouver and No. 8 Burnaby South will meet Monday in a 7:30 p.m. semifinal on the South Court at the LEC.

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