LANGLEY — When last we left Surrey’s Holy Cross Crusaders and the Oak Bay Bays of Victoria, we were right here at the Langley Events Centre.
It was mid-March and the Crusaders were topping the Bays for third-place at the Telus B.C. AAAA championship tournament.
The same two teams renew acquaintances Saturday (4:30 p.m.) at the same complex, as the LEC wraps its annual three-day host role for the 2017 Tsumura Basketball Invitational.
Who knows? Maybe its a precursor to another March meet-and-greet, this one for first place at the provincial tournament.
“I wish I could coach as well as Chris Franklin does,” Holy Cross head coach Anthony Pezzente said of the Oak Bay boss in the moments after the Crusaders’ booked their Saturday night showcase tickets with a 79-67 semifinal win over Abbotsford’s W.J. Mouat Hawks.
“They will execute and run their stuff,” Pezzente continued of a Bays team which cut a clean swath to the tourney final with three decisive victories, including a 99-50 semifinal win over Port Coquitlam’s Terry Fox Ravens in Friday’s other championship final. “They have two fantastic guards but we just have to play our game, have some fun and go from there.”
Said Franklin of the Crusaders: “They just play extremely hard. They have a very high energy level. They compete and we have to be able to withstand runs and make plays. We have to realize that there will be some turnovers and runs both ways. You just have to keep your head up.”
HOLY CROSS 79 W.J. MOUAT 67
LANGLEY — The Hawks used their adjustable zone defence to set an early tone, leading 22-15 early in the second quarter.
However the Crusaders never abandoned their pressing and pushing defence/offence, and eventually the dam broke free.
“A team like that is great to play against because they want to play a 40-30 game and we want to play a 40-30 first quarter,” said Pezzente.
“We’re not good at grinding out wins and manufacturing points to it was a good lesson for us tonight. We did a good job of imposing our will.
“It’s trite and cliche but we talk about trusting the process,” added the coach. “It may not happen in the first quarter, the second, the third or even until it’s like three or four minutes left in the fourth. But you have to trust in it and believe. It’s all about the kids buying in.”
Michael Risi and Gabe Takeawoa each scored 19 points for the winners while Jamal Osei-Anim had 14 points and Marcus Garcia 12.
Osei-Anim and Garcia combined to hit eight of the teams 13 treys.
“We did not do a good job against their pressure,” szaid Mouat heads coach Rich Ralston. “We turned it over too many times. They play a style that takes some getting used to, and we must have turned over 35 times.”
Harvir Garcha led Mouat with 18 points, while Prab Sran added 11 and post Dhivaan Bhogal 14.
Bhogal, a force down low as a scorer and rim protector, was in foul trouble the entire evening and eventually fouled out of the proceedings.
OAK BAY 99 TERRY FOX 50
LANGLEY — Terry Fox bolted out to an 8-2 lead, but once the Bays got their feet under them, they used huge runs to win in convincing fashion.
“They came out strong and they had us on our heels early,” admitted Franklin. “But we’ve got a lot of veterans, so the guys are used to that sort of thing. They played through it and found their rhythm.”
Diego Maffia led the way with 22 points as seven Bays hit double figures in scoring.
Luis Guerra scored 10 of his 14 in the fourth quarter, Riley Cronk added 13, while Valdi Alarie-Hill, Cam Henderson and Caelan Scott each scored 10.
David Chien led the Ravens with 14 while Jacob Mand added 10.
Games will run all day on three courts at the LEC Saturday, leading up to the 4:30 p.m. championship final.
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