PORT COQUITLAM — There were times towards the stretch drive of the Fraser Valley North regular season when it looked like the enormity of the season was ready to swallow the young Terry Fox Ravens whole.
And even at times during the Valley’s 19-day marathon that is the largest and most unforgiving zone playoff in the province, a team of largely Grade 11 talent looked like it was still a year away from punching tickets to the Big Dance.
“It’s been a season with some high highs and some low lows but we just said that we would trust the process,” said head coach Brad Petersen, who along with co-coach Mark Prinster ultimately captained the Ravens through some stormy seas and into the B.C. AAAA championships, where on Wednesday they open as the No. 12 seed, opposing Lower Mainland champion and No. 5 seed Vancouver College in a 12 noon game at the Langley Event Centre’s Arena Bowl complex.
Over the Fraser Valley playoffs, the Ravens three times weathered sudden-elimination games before claiming its season’s signature win thus far, an 89-85 triumph over preseason No. 1 Holy Cross.
Two Sundays ago at the LEC, Terry Fox lost a tight 64-62 game to Langley’s Walnut Grove Gators in the game to determine the fifth- and sixth seeds from the Fraser Valley to this weekend’s B.C. tournament.
“As long as we’re playing the best basketball at the right time, that was our goal,” continued Petersen after the loss to Walnut Grove, “and right now I believe we are doing that. We’ve rewarded ourselves with a trip to the B.C.’s.”
To that end, the maturation of the Grade 11 class has been on point.
Jacob Mand, a 5-foot-11 guard, has been among the team’s top scorers at 18 ppg, while taking on the toughest defensive assignments.
The 6-foot-1 David Chien has been crafty and versatile and leads the team in scoring at 20 ppg.
The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Grady Stanyer, while under-sized in many of his matchups in the front court has been a pillar and averaged 13 rebounds per game.
Petersen also likes the team-first mentality which reared itself when a tough decision had to be made part way through the season regarding a switch at the team’s starting point guard position
Grade 12 stalwart Pierce Ormiston, who joined the basketball team in December following the football team’s heartbreaking loss to New Westminster in the AAA Subway Bowl final, started the season at No. 1 on the depth chart at the position.
As the season progressed, Petersen wanted to see if Grade 10 Ko Takahashi could have more of an impact in that role. It was delicate, but as the head coach discovered, his senior Ormiston was indeed a great leader.
“Without hesitation, Pierce accepted the change because he trusted the coaching staff and was willing to sacrifice his role for the betterment of the team,” said Petersen. “His was something that was so important for our young team to see.”
Takahashi was superb as February gave way to March and has averaged 14 points per game on the campaign.
It’s moments like those, when celebrated on the eve of the big dance, which can resonate through a team and remind each and every player just what it took for them to arrive as one at the Langley Events Centre.
Now, it’s on to prepping for a Vancouver College team which way back on Nov. 28, the first official day of the season, came to PoCo and beat the Ravens 87-66.
“I want them to be excited,” said Petersen of his charges before Sunday’s draw was released. “Our goal was to make the B.C.’s and we think if we play our best at the B.C.’s, we can win some games. After that, you never know what can happen. We just want to make sure it’s the time of the year where we’re playing our best.”
And from all of us who watch early, watch in the middle and then watch late, it’s hard to say that a whole lot of teams improved more heading into the B.C. championships than these 2017-18 Ravens.
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