LANGLEY — They abided by the 50 per cent capacity rules on the opening day of the B.C. junior boys basketball championships at the Langley Events Centre.
Yet based on the passion, emotion and flat-out volume brought to proceedings by the cheering sections for the final game of the night, supporters for Surrey’s Fleetwood Park Dragons and Langley’s Walnut Grove Gators made it sound and feel like a sold-out house.
“It’s a little bit of a rivalry, but you know, we’ll take it over the empty gyms, right?” asked happy Dragons head coach Nick Day after his Fleetwood Park squad eeked out a 52-51 win over the Gators. “Fun game to be part of. Not every one’s going to be an oil painting. We gave away a bit of lead, but we’re pretty young, so it’s nice, win for our guys.”
Rohan Dhanoa and Izaec Oppal each scored 15 points to lead the Dragons, who after building up first quarter and first half leads of 22-7 and 31-15, needed to dig deeper than they had all season to top the Gators and earn a berth in Sunday’s 2 p.m. quarterfinals against a St. Patrick’s team which shares the distinction of not only being the defending champs, but having had to find their way into the draw by way of a play-in victory.
The key for the Dragons?
I think just getting key stops down the stretch, then trying to share the ball when could. When we share the ball we’re effective. When the ball sticks we’re not as effective.”
Armann Gill’s clutch triple made it 49-44 Fleetwood Park with 3:45 left, then a runner in the lane by teammate Karan Sran pushed it to 51-44 with 2:11 left, just enough to hold off the inevitable run the talented Gators had in store.
Joshua Owen-Merriott with 17 points and Kaizer Nystrom with 12 led Walnut Grove.
Fleetwood Park Secondary, like Walnut Grove, is enjoying a superb basketball season.
Not only are the junior boys into the elite 8, the senior girls have already qualified for the big dance, and the senior boys are among the top contenders at the South Fraser championships.
“You know we just feed off each other,” smiled Day. “That’s kind of the culture of our school.”
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