LANGLEY — What a day to dance on the hardwood of the Langley Events Centre.
Thanks for coming back and joining us for the third day of the 2022 Tournament.
Please keep checking back throughout the evening as myself and fellow writer Aaron Martin cover the day’s semifinal clashes.
Games are being live-streamed if you can’t make it out. Go to TFSEtv.ca
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Here’s our game-by-game reports:
— Howard Tsumura
STORIES BY AARON MARTIN (Special for Varsity Letters)
GLENLYON NORFOLK 91 CEDARS CHRISTIAN 89
LANGLEY – A clash of titans – featuring two of the tournament’s top three seeds – lived up to the billing on Friday afternoon, as the Glenlyon Norfolk Gryphons went down to the wire in a thrilling 91-89 triumph over the Cedars Christian Eagles.
With Glenlyon Norfolk up 82-78 and just 2:22 on the clock, Eagles forward Jacob Oliver went off the glass from the left baseline. Oliver then broke up the play on the other end, forcing a Gryphons foul. With both sides in the bonus, Grade 10 guard Ryan Crosina steps to the line and knocks down one of the two free throws to make it 82-81.
Quick to respond, Gryphons forward Callum Shillington knocked down a deep two over traffic to put them back up by three.
On Glenlyon Norfolk’s next trip down the floor Grade 12 guard Mitch Crosina picked off a pass, ran the length of the floor and dropped it off to his younger brother Ryan to bring the game back to a one-point margin.
After Mason Carlson and Shillington notched back-to-back buckets with just to put the Gryphons up 88-83 with just 12 seconds remaining, the game appeared to be fading.
Then, the elder Crosina drilled an incredible-catch-and shoot three of the ensuing inbounds, bringing Cedars Christian to within striking distance.
Following a quick foul, Glenlyon Norfolk’s guard Satchel Ramraj stepped to the line and sank both free throws to make it 90-86 before a desperation heave from Oliver found its mark from long-range.
After getting fouled, with just 0.6 seconds remaining, Carlson would sink one of the two free throws to punch Glenlyon Norfolk’s ticket to the championship finals.
For Gryphons head coach Harvey Thorau, the wild finish was an abject lesson in what he’s been preaching all year.
“I keep bringing up the 2018-19 team,” said Thorau. “They lost in double overtime in this semifinal round, and man, that was tough. So all year, we’ve talked about keeping composure, and keeping the mental part of the game in check. Honestly, we didn’t do a great job of that, but we did enough physically to make it work. They [the Eagles] are smaller, but they’re so quick on the outside and have some excellent shooters.”
The Eagles’ deft ball movement and balanced attack was on full display as they raced out to a 17-6 lead early on, a run that saw all five Eagles starters – Mitch Crosina, Kibonge, guard Seth Hulka, as well as forward Jake Doerksen, and center Jacob Oliver – each hit the scoresheet over the team’s first five buckets.
While Cedars Christian got early contributions from all over the court, it was the North Central MVP Mitch Crosina who punctuated a dominant first quarter. About halfway through, and up 21-12, Crosina went coast-to-coast on the fast break and hit a twisting layup in traffic. The guard nailed the ensuing free throw to cap a spectacular individual effort.
The physicality of the two sides really became apparent as the game moved into the second frame. Several high-impact collisions were spread throughout a thoroughly entertaining back-and-forth contest, leading both teams to hit the bonus with several minutes left in the first half.
The Gryphons managed to close to just two points on multiple occasions as Carlson started to dictate play from the Eagles’ paint – the 6-foot-6 centre posted a game-high 10 points in the second quarter alone. Finally, Glenlyon Norfolk pulled all the way even at the buzzer, with guard Jacob Heir knocking down a deep jumper – part of a nine-point second quarter for him – to knot the game up at 51-51.
Heir would get the Gryphons their first lead of the contest early in the third quarter, as the Grade 11 forward hit a nifty floater coming out of the break to put Vancouver Island champs up 53-51.
To get an indication of how close this game was in the third quarter, the game was either tied or saw the lead change hands five times before the eight minute mark. While the Eagles made their living on quick strike outside shooting from their triumvirate of talented lead guards, Carlson and the Gryphons dominated the glass and possession game.
Even after Glenlyon Norfolk parlayed an 9-0 run – their largest of the game – into a 68-60 lead, a couple Crosina buckets saw Cedars Christian pull the game back to 68-65 heading into the final 10 minutes.
Carlson ended the contest as the game’s leading scoring, picking up 33 points and 15 boards, while Heir had 20 points and 12 rebounds, while Shillington had 18 and 16. Mitch Crosina and Kibonge tied to lead Cedars Christian in scoring with 26 points apiece.
UNITY CHRISTIAN 91 FERNIE 67
LANGLEY – It wasn’t always a sure thing, but in the end, the single-A championships will end with the top two seeds duking it out for all the marbles.
The top-seeded Unity Christian Flames punched their ticket to the big dance with an emphatic 91-67 victory over the No. 4-ranked Fernie Falcons.
“It went well,” noted Unity Christian head coach Dave Bron. “It went our way. The key for us was just staying disciplined. It’s five basic things – keep your hands up, box out, those kind of things. It paid off today. We were able to get to a point where we could roll eight or nine deep in our lineup and shots just started falling.”
It was a game of momentum in the opening stanza, and the underdog Falcons staked the early claim. After Fernie had rumbled to a 17-12 lead, the top-ranked Flames caught fire, reeling off a 17-1 run that bridged the first and second quarters. The Flames were everywhere during that stretch, using their impressive length and speed to create havoc on both ends.
One of the key storylines in the first half was the play of Fernie’s Bronson Impey, as the 6-foot-5 forward not only led the Falcons with 13 first-half points, he also led the way with four personal fouls and was limited to just 12 minutes of action across first two quarters.
However, Impey wasn’t the only Falcon who found themselves in foul trouble in the first half – Unity Christian went to the line 19 times compared to just eight for Fernie. In addition to their foul trouble, Fernie turned over the ball 10 times to just five giveaways for the Flames.
On the other end, it was Unity Christian captain Liam Van Endom who led the way for the Flame’s offense with 14 points and four steals.
But Bron was more infatuated with the effort in their own half of the court.
“I know they can score, but as a coach, it was just awesome to see the work they did on the defensive end. Getting in lanes, blocking shots, just being disruptive. It was great,” said the coach.
By halftime, Unity Christian held a 43-31 advantage, and didn’t let up in the second half. The Flames poured it on to the tune of 48 second-half points to just 36 for the Falcons. Van Endom would end as the game’s high scorer, finishing with 24 points. Seth Schurmann added 20 points and nine boards for the Flames, while Impey’s 13 points led Fernie.
Unity Christian will now prepare to take on the No. 2-seeded Glenlyon Norfolk Gryphons in the championship bout tomorrow afternoon.
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