(This is a game report from the opening round of the Terry Fox Legal Beagle. Check back later this evening as we hope to have reports from the three later championship-round games from opening day.)
VANCOUVER COLLEGE 95 NEW WESTMINSTER 76
PORT COQUITLAM — Ready for a 10 a.m. instant classic?
How about the No. 4 Holy Cross Crusaders against the No. 6 Vancouver College Fighting Irish?
That’s the match-up Friday morning as Day 2 of the 30th annual Terry Fox Legal Beagle senior boys high school invitational will underway with a quarterfinal play-in clash between the two traditional Catholic school powers.
“I know both teams are going to be up for that game,” smiled Irish head coach Lloyd Scrubb on Thursday afternoon, moments after his Irish staved off a never-say-die New Westminster Hyacks team 95-76 to win their opening round Beagle contest. “We’ll probably see them again at the (B.C.) Catholics, hopefully. They work hard so they are going to test us. I think they are tougher than we are, so we are going to have to show that if we want to compete with them, we are going to have to be just as tough.”
If the Irish all play as tough as senior forward Toni Maric did Thursday, then Vancouver will indeed be ready to test the Crusaders, one of two teams in the 10-team Beagle draw annually awarded a random opening-day bye.
The 6-foot-8 Maric, who had sat out last season on a transfer from Sir Charles Tupper, was a beast on the glass and a force the Irish sorely needed to match the early energy provided by the Hyacks.
New West built first quarter leads of 15-8 and 18-13, and didn’t trail until the middle of the second quarter.
Maric, however, soon established his turf down low, showing a punishing brand of low-post persistence which allowed him to play through the contact and finish with a game-high 23 points, 11 of which came in the third quarter.
“He is a big target, so we don’t even have to be that good to get the ball to him,” said Scrubb, “and he is a good finisher so he is an integral part of our offence. We will keep looking to force it in to him.”
Fellow front-court force Luc Therrien scored all 10 of his points in the second half for the winners.
Meanwhile, the Irish guard group showed itself to be rounding into form.
Sean Heppner led the way with 17 points, while Callum Chow-White and Jason Soriano each scored a dozen. Hunter Cruz-Dumont added 10.
Ex-Lord Tweedsmuir forward Ethan Rivas led the way for New Westminster with 14 points.
A.J. Chol, fresh off the gridiron, scored 12 points for the Hyacks. Guards Mo Al-Ghreibawi and Simon Cruz, and forward Kirk Bothwell all scored 11 points apiece for veteran head coach Ted Cusick who has returned to the helm of the senior varsity this season, and has a team which may be able to challenge for a provincial spot by the time the Lower Mainland championships roll around.
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