LANGLEY — The beauty of the last week of February as it pertains to the B.C. senior boys high school basketball world?
Many purists will tell you that it is within this window of zone playdowns and provincial championship qualification, that you actually get to see the best teams begin to touch their ceilings.
Tonight, as we jump head first into the fray and bring you the results of four just such efforts, we start out in Tri-Cities with PoCo’s Terry Fox Ravens and Port Moody’s Heritage Woods Kodiaks.
The pair charted a head-on clash Sunday at the Langley Events Centre for the Fraser North Quad-A championship title, a matchup created by each team’s respective efforts Friday… efforts which helped them punch their tickets to next month’s Big Dance.
FRASER NORTH SEMIFINALS
TERRY FOX 73 BURNABY MOUNTAIN 45
PORT COQUITLAM — Playing a stifling brand of defence which limited the Burnaby Mountain Lions to just 13 first-half points, the host Ravens rolled to a convincing win, as big man Brendan Nightengale poured home a game-22 points in the Fraser North semifinal.
Afterwards, veteran head coach Rich Chambers agreed that getting greasy on the defensive end of the floor, especially in the paint, proved to be vital.
“We really liked our preparation,” said Chambers. “We had great help with their post, and we really limted their second-chance points. That was the real key to winning.”
And with Nightengale getting things done inside, Ravens’ shooters got in a groove from three-point range.
Parker Kennedy hit four treys and finished with 14 points, while defensive ace Lucas Bulin hit three triples and finished with 11 points.
“I am very happy with the way we played…. It’s always exciting to win your way into the B.C.’s,” added Chambers.
Burnaby Mountain, which got 12 points from Addison Button, and nine each from Anthony Shon and Deon Johnson, are still alive in their provincial tourney bid, but they will have to traverse a sudden-eliminatiom back-door path towards a potential challenge game against a similarly-positioned Vancouver Sea-to-Sky team in early March.
Punched our ticket to the BCs! HUGE road win! #Kodiakpride pic.twitter.com/87qxGkfbjz— Todd Clerkson (@TClerkson) February 25, 2023
HERITAGE WOODS 72 BURNABY SOUTH 61
BURNABY — It’s no easy task beating the reigning B.C. champs on their own home court, and it’s even tougher when an automatic berth to the B.C.’s is on the line.
Yet that is just what Port Moody’s Heritage Woods Kodiaks did Friday, with an effort that left coach Andrew Lloyd a little breathless.
“I am emotional right now,” the proud Lloyd said after a balanced performance from his team which included five players scoring into double figures: Aidan Wilkie with 18, Kai Rawnsley with 14, Carter McCauley with 13, Aidan Lloyd with 12 and Liam Twa with 10.
Lloyd was especially proud of his son Aidan, whose special story was so well-documented by The Province’s Steve Ewen earlier this week.
“Aidan was a beast tonight,” his coach said. “The kid is unreal. He works hard. He is the best defender we have. His IQ and compete level is… He guards the bigs and then he brings the ball up the floor.”
Indeed the 6-foot-4 senior point-forward Lloyd was just that kind of invaluable piece the Kodiaks needed to top the Rebels, who like Burnaby Mountain, will now embark on a tough, tough back-door road they hope still yields an opportunity to play at the provincials.
“I think what’s made us special is we had seven guys working hard and together as a team, and they are extremley intelligent basketball players,” Lloyd continued. “I told them for the last five years ‘You have yet to play a complete game’ and ‘I am trying to get you over the hump’ and today, they played a complete game. They just willed themselves to a win.”
Burnaby South got 14 points from Brady Lau, 13 from Lordrikk Gutierrez, 12 from Armaan Hehar and 10 from Malik Hussein.
The big question moving forward on the championship side of the draw?
What happens in the next chapter between these two teams after Terry Fox beat Heriateg Woods 72-41 on the final day of the regular season back on Valentine’s Day?
“Well, they spanked us pretty good in our last league game so it’s going to be a hell of a battle,” said Lloyd. “Rich (Chambers) and I will probably talk tonight on the phone. It’s going to be a great game and it will be great for our kids to play at the LEC in front of a noisy crowd.
KELOWNA 90 RUTLAND 66
KELOWNA — Nash Semeniuk led three Kelowna players with 20 or more points Friday, pouring in a game-high 25 as host Owls topped the Rutland VooDoos to earn the zone’s lone Quad-A berth to provincials.
While the Grade 11 Semeniuk was doing his thing, so were his fellow seniors.
The 6-foot-3 guard Walker Sodaro, a basketball/volleyball dual-sport athlete of the blue-chip variety, scored 20 points while 6-foot-11 post Will Keyes added 22 more.
The way Owls’ head coach Harry Parmar saw things, the ball is following its favoured trajectory on a much more consistent basis these days.
“We are finally starting to play inside-out,” he said after the win as KSS scored the first 12 points of the second quarter, leading 33-17 and never looking back.
Rutland got 19 points from Raj Dhadda and Pavan Punia, while Kyle Dale added 11 more.
VANCOUVER ISLAND SEMIFINALS
DOVER BAY 82 CARIHI 60
VICTORIA — A 19-2 run early in the second half turned a tight, high-stakes game into a show of belief for Nanaimo’s Dover Bay Dolphins.
The Dolphins led Campbell River’s Carihi Tyees 37-36 at the break in their Vancouver Island Triple-A semifinal clash.
Dover Bay soon trailed 42-21, yet that run helped them build a 60-44 lead en route to a 22-point win over the Tyees.
That victory, coupled with Alberni District’s narrow 66-64 win over Nanaimo’s Wellington Wildcats pits the Armada against the Dolphins in an 8 p.m. title tilt Saturday at Stelly’s Secondary.
Both teams have qualified for provincials.
Mount Douglas plays Carihi, while Stelly’s faces Wellington in Saturday morning games.
The two winners will face each other for the zone’s third-and-final B.C. berth at 6 p.m.
For Dover Bay head coach Darren Seaman it wasn’t hard to pinpoint the game’s turning point for his team.
“We talked about toughness in the third quarter,” he said. “The things that define true toughness. Persistence was the key one we dialled in on today when Carihi was just hanging around. Just keep playing your own style of game and don’t take your foot off.”
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