LANGLEY — It’s up to you, the basketball fan, to decide just where Miguel Tomley sits on a list of our province’s grandest-ever high school basketball talents.
Yet in the wake of one of the most exciting four-day runs in the entire 73-year history of the B.C. boys high school basketball championships, there are aspects of his game, as they pertain to the metrics of provincial tournament play, which simply stand on their own.
For example, the senior guard with Surrey’s Tamanawis Wildcats, who finished his high school career in last Saturday’s B.C. Quad A third-place game by scoring 66 points, finished with 180 total points over four games.
Not only is that the record for most points in a four-game tournament, but a five-game one as well.
Further, his 66 points in a 100-76 win over Victoria’s Belmont Bulldogs, is the second-highest recorded total in a single tournament game, and what’s most impressive is that the first three games of his magical run came on the championship side of the draw.
And there is more.
Tomley, who went 21-of-57 from the field in the win over Belmont, set a new tournament record for most made three-pointers in a game (15, 15-of-38).
“I mean, I’ve had a pretty good career up until now, so I thought it would be good to go out with a bang,” Tomley said last Saturday amidst the on-court celebrations taking place following the AAAA title win by the Burnaby South Rebels over the Semiahmoo Totems.
“My teammates all wanted it to happen, so I just went out and shot the ball as many times as I could. Fortunately, a lot of them went in.”
Tomley also went 9-for-9 from the stripe with five steals, four assists, no turnover and two blocks.
The three-point shooting acumen he packed that game lived up to what his defining strength is when compared against the skills of B.C.’s all-time best.
“I have never shot that many threes in a game and they were from deep, too,” added Tomley. “(Tamanawis head coach) Mike (McKay) just told me to keep shooting.”
TOMLEY’S TIES TO THE GREATS
Steve Nash. Kelly Olynyk. And now Miguel Tomley.
If you’re wondering what single theme links three of the best to ever play this game in B.C., besides their talent, it’s the fact that they all missed their Grade 11 seasons of play.
Nash sat his (1990-91) out on a transfer into St. Michaels University School, Olynyk sat out his (2007-08) after recuperating from a serious arm/shoulder injury he suffered quarterbacking the South Kamloops Titans football team, and Tomley his after an aborted season (2016-17) back east at a prep school he decided to leave, only to find out he was ineligible to play upon his return to Tamanawis
Both Nash (1992) and Olynyk (2009) played at the tournament just one time each, both winning MVP titles.
Nash, unfortunately, played in an era before full box scores were produced, and thus nothing is official about the assist and steal totals which, as much or more than his scoring, defined his generalship and his game.
From an overall standpoint, it’s hard to imagine that anyone in tourney history has ever approached what he accomplished, despite the fact his Titans were eliminated in the Final Four of his senior season.
In that one glorious tournament run of four games, Olynyk not only led the tournament in scoring (36.5 ppg) but in rebounds (15.5) and even assists (7.2). As well he tied for the tourney lead in blocked shots with 3.5 per contest.
It stands alone.
Yet what Tomley has accomplished, in its own right, and in a slightly different box, also stands on it own.
We’ve already talked about his 180 points at this past week’s B.C. tourney.
Yet his 295 career B.C. tournament points are actually third on the all-time list, behind the 386 points of Yale guard Jauquin Bennett-Boire and Richmond guard Pasha Bains, who scored 317.
Not to take anything away from those two, because each of them were glorious talents who led their respective teams to top-tiered B.C. titles in their senior seasons.
Tomley, however, is not a weak third on that list.
Bennett-Boire’s 386 points came over four seasons and 16 games.
Bains’ 317 came over 12 games and three seasons.
Tomley’s 295 came over just eight games and two seasons.
And if you want to get right down to the nitty-gritty, 115 of them came when he led Tamanawis to the AAAA championship game, one the Wildcats lost to a Kelowna Owls team many consider the greatest in B.C. history.
Remember, Tomley was only in Grade 10 that year, and that in totality, seven of his eight total tournament games came on the winner’s side of the draw.
“And he didn’t even play his Grade 11 year,” reminds Bains, his AAU coach at Drive Basketball, whose 26.4 points-per-game scoring average at the tournament pales in comparison to Tomley’s second-best 36.9 ppg.
G.P. Vanier’s Calvin Westbrook averaged 44.5 ppg in 2006, when with the 20-team format it was possible to play just two games, which he did that season.
For players appearing in more than just one tournament, Tomley’s 36.9 ppg is best ever. Richmond’s Alan Tait (1979, ’80) is second at 31.5 ppg, and Terry Fox’s Bret Anderson is third at 30.5 ppg.
HIS HISTORY ASSURED
Tomley knows that his best is yet to come.
The one thing he doesn’t yet know is just where he will play his college basketball.
After initially signing with Cal Baptist, a program set to enter NCAA Div. 1 next season, he had a change of heart and decided to re-classify, meaning he will play one season at a prep school before re-opening his recruiting process.
It’s no secret that Tomley is looking to play at a high Div. 1 program.
“I wanted to re-classify because I just thought it was the best thing for me,” said Tomley, who isn’t yet sure of his prep school destination as well. “Throughout the entire thing, people had very high expectations for me. And I don’t want to say that I belittled myself, but I just felt that I could do better. By re-classifying, hopefully I am able to get something bigger and better.”
The mark he leaves on B.C. high school basketball will be indelible.
Certainly given his accomplishments, and the fact that forward Eric Hinrichsen (Campbell River-Carihi, 1994), guard Jordie McTavish (1996, Salmon Arm) and Olynyk before him won tourney MVP honours as members of third-place teams, Tomley had the credentials to be similarly honoured last Saturday.
Jusuf Sehic of Burnaby South’s title-winning team, however, was a fully deserving winner. His team wouldn’t have won its first B.C. title since 1979 without him.
It’s personal opinion, just as it might be as to where Tomley ultimately sits in the grand pecking order of B.C. high school basketball.
As the debates continue, and as the tradition of the tournament continues to grow, however, the one thing that can’t be denied is that Miguel Tomley is simply of the greatest to ever play high school basketball in the province of B.C., and stuff like that, you don’t say lightly.
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