LANGLEY — Welcome to our Day 3 coverage from the 2019 B.C. senior boys basketball championships.
Coverage is being provided for all eight Final Four games across four tiers tonight. We appreciate your patience as we do our best to post game reports tonight.
Coverage for both Quad-A and Triple-A games will be provided by Howard Tsumura. Former Vancouver Sun sportswriter Gary Kingston will cover the Double-A semifinals, while the Langley Event Centre’s own Gary Ahuja will provide reports from the Single-A contests.
FINAL FOUR FRIDAY
No. 9 LORD TWEEDSMUIR 75 No. 5 BURNABY SOUTH 64
LANGLEY — There has been a part of Drew Gallacher which had been working towards the moment for almost 40 years.
And while the head coach of Surrey’s Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers wasn’t about to pretend that his team didn’t get a little divine intervention from the basketball gods above, he was also rightly proud of a basketball team he saw rise to the occasion and win what was the biggest game of their lives.
“This feels fantastic,” the head coach of Surrey’s Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers said after his team beat the defending B.C. champion Burnaby South Rebels 75-64 in the first of two Quad A Final Four clashes on Friday at the Langley Events Centre.
“We caught a massive break without Sasha playing,” he continued of the fact that the Rebels’ 6-foot-10 Grade 11 centre Sasha Vujisic was forced to sit out after an ankle suffered the night before in an 81-60 win over the Centennial Centaurs. “But to keep that team to 64 points was a real testament to our defence. I was so happy with the way that the boys battled.”
Big-game players embrace such moments, and no one typified that better than the Panthers’ senior guard Arjun Samra.
He was picked the MVP at the Tsumura Basketball Invitational last December after he scored 25 points and engineered an 82-77 title-game win over the Rebels.
On Friday, he did it again, this time with a game-high 35 points and 11 rebounds.
“He makes me look good as coach,” said Gallacher. “That kid is so tough mentally. He trains every single morning and you can see that in his vertical, his speed, his intellience, his skill. I don’t know many better than him.”
Elijah Devison, who has soared in recent weeks, added 15 points and 11 rebounds, while Grade 11 forward Jackson Corneil had seven points and 11 rebounds.
Burnaby South head coach Mike Bell was classy in defeat.
“We played right to the end, that is a good team and they got the better of us,” said Bell, who when asked added that Vujisic had suffered a high-ankle sprain and was out for three-to-six weeks.
For Gallacher, a former Vancouver College student in the early 1980s, qualifying for the provincials in his current posting as a teacher was something very important to him.
“In 1982 I went to Vancover College, and the first year I was there they took us all out by bus to the B.C. championships,” he remembered. “I always said I wanted to come back as a teacher and an educator. That has set such an impression on me that I knew I always wanted to be a part of it. So to be here with my son (senior forward Jake Gallcher) and this group of kids, is amazing.”
The Panthers out-rebounded the Rebels 75-64 and took 15 more free throws trips, while converting at a 79 per cent clip (15-of-19) for the game.
Baltej Sohal led the Rebels with 16 points, Justin Sunga added 14 and Jio Khan 13.
No. 7 KELOWNA No. 3 TERRY FOX
LANGLEY — It was just two years ago that the Kelowna Owls were supposedly making a last stand here at the B.C. boys Quad A basketball championships…for at least a handful of years, anyway.
They had already lost Parker Simon and Grant Shephard, and now they were set to lose Mason Bourcier to graduation.
Last season they didn’t even make the the provincial field.
So how is it that just two short years later, the Kelowna Owls are back in the championship game?
“It’s amazing what you can do with 12 character kids who care for one another and who don’t make excuses and are accountable,” head coach Harry Parmar said after his No. 9-seeded Okanagan champs upset the No. 3-seeded, Fraser Valley runners-up PoCo’s Terry Fox Ravens. “It’s amazing what you can do.”
With senior guard Parker Johnstone channeling all the best of Bourcier, and maybe a little bit of old school Al Lalonde as well, Kelowna gutted out a 74-67 win in which its largest lead was only eight points with 34 seconds remaining.
Johnstone poured home 37 points while Grade 11 guards Hunter Simson and Malcolm Greggor added 17 and 15 respectively.
Johnstone’s offensive rebound and put-back with 3:06 remaining gave the Owls a 68-65 lead, and a few more possessions of tough defence was enough for the free throw parade to begin.
“It feels amazing,” said Hunter Simson. “We didn’t even go to provincials last year and now we’ve made it to the finals. It’s hard to explain.”
The game plan to try and slow a Fox team which back on Jan. 12 at the Ravens’ own Legal Beagle invitaitonal had toppled the Owls 70-51?
“Control the paint,” Simson said. “Don’t let them get inside. We did a good job of that. They were able to hit some outside shots, but we kept them from driving. It worked for us.”
Parmar had his own recipe for success.
“I thought if we did a couple of things really well, we could have a chance to be here,” he began of earning a spot in the final. “If we could transition really well, and defensively if we could get turnovers.”
The big change?
Kelowna full-court pressed everyone all year.
Yet on Friday, they tweaked the scheme, pulling back on the ambition of that press while still finding a a way to be effective.
“I think maybe they were surprised,” Parmar said of the Ravens. “This year, we’d never, ever done it.”
Yet the Owls did it and won, despite getting crushed on the glass by Terry Fox. The Ravens’ had 53 rebounds, and a plus-19 differential on the day.
Forward Grady Stanyer had 11 points and 25 caroms, and guard David Chien 13 points, 13 rebounds and nine
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