Vancouver College's Joshua Jaurigue (left) keeps a close eye on St. George's Adrian Bacic on Friday in the Lower Mainland AAA final in Richmond. (Photo -- Paul Czene)
Feature High School Boys Basketball

Irish depth zaps rally of Saints in Mainland AAA final

RICHMOND — Not that any of this is being scripted from above, but act three of a potential four-act play found our chief protagonists locked in a familiar script Friday at The Oval.

The Vancouver College Fighting Irish and the St. George’s Saints have done the dance twice already in league play this season, and with berths to the Telus B.C. senior boys Quad-A championships already assured, Friday’s battle for the 2017 Lower Mainland championship banner threatened but ultimately failed to produce a different ending.

The Fighting Irish once again appeared ready to run away and hide, its deep guard rotation running out to a 16-4 game-opening lead, and later pushing that margin to 13 points at 40-27.

The Saints, as they have done throughout the rivalry this season, found a push, this time a 14-0 run that spanned the halftime break to lead 41-40.

In the end, however, the energy expended through their rallying ways zapped St. George’s focus down the stretch drive, and Vancouver College re-discovered its tempo en route to an 83-73 victory.

“It’s the third game and they have each followed the same pattern,” said Vancouver College head coach Lloyd Scrubb, who once again topped his former high school coach and former coaching partner Bill Disbrow.

“At halftime, that’s what we talked about,” he continued. “We knew they weren’t going to give up and so we had to bring energy. It wasn’t a great start in the third quarter for us, but to the credit of my team, they battled.”

Balance and depth, the trademarks of Van College this season, once again revealed themselves as four players hit double-figures on offence.

Cam Wright came off the bench to hit four triples and lead his team with 20 points. Starters Sam Bailey with 18 and Jack Cruz-Dumont with 17, and Jovanic Castillo with 14 off the bench did the rest of the damage.

Down a pair of rotation players at the start of the contest, Disbrow continued to plumb production from his bench, giving guards William Lin and Alex Ference extended minutes.

Yet only five Saints players scored more than a bucket, and Saints got just eight points from its bench the entire game.

The positive from St. George’s perspective?

They continued to make strides dealing with the Irish’s defensive pressure, something Disbrow has patiently drilled in team practices.

“I think we have shown a lot of improvement since the last time we played them and we committed 28 turnovers,” the veteran coach explained. “We had some today, but it wasn’t from their press. It was on foolish, hurried stuff. The press didn’t bother us.”

Saints’ post Jacob Van Santen stayed out of foul trouble and scored 17 of his game-high 24 points in the second half.

Louis Sujir added 19 points, and Jamie Catliff 10 points.

Still, the loss of key backcourt star Jon Mikhlin in the first week of the regular season in early December to a season-ending knee injury has been felt.

“We felt pretty good about it,” Disbrow said when asked if he thought his team could continue to build on its rally, which produced a one-point lead in the third quarter. “But we made simple errors and we don’t have a true point guard. Our kids have done a great job adapting, but there are still times when things break down, and tonight things broke down.”

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