LANGLEY — Day 1 of the 2023 Tsumura Basketball Invitational is now complete.
Enjoy our game reports!
(All games at South Court)
TOP HALF DRAW
NORTH DELTA 66 G.W. GRAHAM 50
LANGLEY — The North Delta Huskies are offering a pretty big early clue as to what kind of team they aspire to be this season.
And if the signs they showed Wednesday which point towards them becoming a second-half team, well, head coach Jas Hothi probably isn’t going to mind too much.
Holding a 33-29 halftime lead against Chilliwack’s G.W. Graham Grizzlies, the Huskies went on a 24-7 third-quarter run and never looked back, getting a balanced scoring performance led by the 15 points of senior point guard Harvir Hothi.
Arjun Atwal and Joseph Maku, another pair of seniors, scored 15 and 13 points respectively while Grade 11 6-foot-5 centre Gurdas Dillon played a huge role in turning the tide, score ng all eight of his points in the all-important third frame.
The Grizzlies also saw seniors step forward. Nathan Bartha led the way with 17 points while Yalin Yilmaz added 16 more.
SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL 90 CENTENNIAL 71
LANGLEY — It was one of those games where you walk in the gym and the first thing you do is throw your scouting report out of the window.
Well, that might be a bit dramatic, but imagine heading into South Court for your team’s TBI opener against the Centennial Centaurs and seeing a burgeoning B.C. hoops superstar whom we all thought had migrated south this season to play at the prep school level sitting on the bench of the Coquitlam-based team.
“I saw him when I walked in the gym and I saw him sitting on the bench, but I didn’t know he was on the team” said Winston Churchill senior guard Thomas Jefferson of Tray Belanger, the explosive, tall-timbered point guard who last season helped Surrey’s Tamanawis Wildcats to second place at the B.C. junior boys basketball championships.
Belanger, who had only practiced once with his new team, is clearly dynamic, yet it takes time for any new player to find his feet, let alone one who is amongst the most electric and talented in his graduating class.
All of that said, Belanger scored a team-high 25 points without really knowing his teammates in a performance which saw him go 9-of-12 from the free throw line.
For Jefferson, who just happened to score a game-high 27 in the win for the Bulldogs, being able to adapt on the fly to facing a team with a player of Belanger’s calibre re-inforced his ideals of what Churchill has to do this season to be successful.
“I think it’s important that we stick as a team and communicate on the floor because if we stop that, one-man team type of a player is going to beat our team easily,” said Jefferson, “so it’s important that she keep playing defence, hustle and communicate.”
Luka Sabotic added 26 points for the winners while Samito Oguri added 17 more.
Alex Birsan, a 6-foot-5 10th grader, added 20 points.
And while no one is talking up the Bulldogs potential to bust some brackets and be a presence when the calendar hits, say, February, Jefferson likes the direction his team is headed.
“(But) I like keeping us a little unknown for a little bit,” he smiled. ” So it fine.”
ST. THOMAS MORE 62 A.R. MACNEILL 56
LANGLEY — It’s not often that you’re going to see a B.C. junior varsity championship-winning team move virtually its entire roster up to the senior varsity level the following season, but that is pretty close to what is happening this season with Burnaby’s St. Thomas More Knights.
On Wednesday, that fresh-faced bunch which comprises about 90 per cent of the team’s roster, continued its transition to the senior varsity ranks, beating Richmond’s A.R. MacNeill Ravens in the opening round of TBI.
Longtime senior varsity head coach Aaron Mitchell, this season moving down a seat on the bench to play an assistant’s role to new head man Denzel Laguerta, explained that making the leap en masse is no doubt challenging, and it’s something which prompted the program to front load their schedule with quality opposition.
“The best thing was playing (Quad-A No. 1) Oak Bay in the first game of the year because the feeling and the emotions they had of being champs last year were just erased,” said Mitchell of entering his team in last week’s Heritage Woods’ Kodiak Classic. “When you are down 13-2 to start the game… it’s good because now they have gone through it. We all know it’s huge jump. Winning the B.C. junior title was huge for our school but it really doesn’t mean much if we don’t apply it to the next level because it’s bigger, faster, stronger.”
On Wednesday, STMC trailed the Ravens 23-8 near the midway mark of the second quarter, yet by halftime they had mounted a 20-0 run and led 28-23.
“You have to take the approach like it’s every other season,” said Mitchell. “It’s one day at a time and it’s the reason we did the Heritage Woods tournament. It’s letting these kids see the level early on. We probably have too many games ’til Christmas but it will be good for us.”
Zeru Abera led the Knights with 18 points. Jacob Oreta added 17 and Ryan Chau 14.
Joaquin Batista led A.R. MacNeill with 18 points, Chad Gammad had 16 and Nigel Galano-Tan a further 11.
SOUTH KAMLOOPS 59 CLAREMONT 56
LANGLEY — Three key starters spent the first weekend of the B.C. high school basketball season helping their school’s volleyball team win a B.C. senior boys AA volleyball championship at the Langley Events Centre.
Another key player was coming off a sickness.
Yet South Kamloops Titans head basketball coach Corey Yamaoka knew he had an ac e up his sleeve.
“They have been together since Grade 8,” Yamaoka said after his Titans topped Victoria’s Claremont Spartans 59-56 in a round 1 TBI clash. “It’s going to take a little bit because they are coming from volleyball, but the teamwork is there and it’s going to come our way. Tonight was the first game of the season for our guys.”
Surprise ticket punchers to last season’s Triple-A provincials, the Titans made their way to March Madness at the LEC as a near-exclusive team of Grade 11’s.
Their AA volleyball title win over Abby Christian proved their athletic versatility and the fact they were able to come away winners in a one-possession contest in their first game of the season showed their built-in chemistry.
Keene Brulotte, the 6-foot-8 senior led the winners with 14 points while Noah Henson added 12 more. Larry Shabaka-Gisa scored nine points.
Tyson Buckham led the Spartans with 17 points while Joshua Carson added nine more.
BOTTOM HALF DRAW
KING GEORGE 64 SOUTH DELTA 32
LANGLEY — When last we left Vancouver’s King George Dragons this past March, they were on their way to capturing the school’s first-ever senior boys B.C. basketball title.
King George, No. 1 in the latest B.C. Double-A rankings, played like provincial favourites taking an early step on a long journey to March as they opened TBI play Wednesday at the LEC with a convincing 64-32 win over Tsawwassen’s South Delta Sun Devils.
The Dragons were led by the senior trio of Faisal Shaw (19 point), Darko Karac (14 points) and Andre Novicic (12 points), who combined for 45 points.
South Delta, making its first-ever TBI boys appearance, were led by the dual eight-point performances of Finley Mcconnell and Joshua Margharitis.
SULLIVAN HEIGHTS 74 ST. MICHAELS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL 61
LANGLEY — At Surrey’s up-and-coming Sullivan Heights Secondary, the senior boys basketball program is putting all the right pieces together.
Perhaps it’s better called a perfect confluence of talent… kind of like all the Stars aligning.
On Wednesday, fuelled by 63 points from its starting line-up, the Sullivan Heights Stars showed all the shine it needed to mount two big second-half runs en route to a 74-61 win over Victoria’s St. Michaels University School Blue Jags.
Seniors Yuvraj Grewal (16 points), Julius de Jesus (9) and Ashvir Mandair (6), and Grade 11s Nick Baxter (18) and Ethan Hugall (14) did the majority of the damage for the victors who were making their first appearance at TBI.
Damon Bains with 14 points and Davis Hardy with 10 ld the Blue Jags in scoring.
HERITAGE WOODS 91 SIR CHARLES TUPPER 68
LANGLEY — That deep run mounted last season by the Heritage Woods Kodiaks at the B.C. junior boys championships is picking up right where it left off at the senior varsity level.
Three members of that JV Kodiaks team, which lost in the B.C. Final Four last March, joined senior Aidan Wilkie as Heritage Woods opened play at the TBI on Wednesday with a decisive win over Vancouver’s Charles Tupper Tigers.
While the senior Wilkie was providing 19 points, those three Grade 11s parlaying last season’s success into much-needed impact were superb throughout. Guards Joseph Thompson and Abu Bullock scored 21 and 19 points respectively, while 6-foot-9 post Ben Pearson added 14 points.
Tupper had pulled to within 56-47 in the third quarter, but then the aforementioned quartet turned on the jets to key a 13-4 run as the Kodiaks led 69-51 heading into the fourth quarter.
WELLINGTON 75 STEVESTON-LONDON 66
LANGLEY — Grayson Ritzand may only be a Grade 10, but already, in his second season of senior varsity basketball, the Wellington Wildcats’ 6-foot-5 forward is primary on every opposition game plan.
Only thing is, it’s tough to design one that shuts him down.
Ritzand poured home 38 points on Wednesday to lead his Nanamio-based Wildcats to a 75-66 win over the Steveston-London Sharks on Day 1 here at the TBI.
“He’s relentless, he’s got a nose for the ball and he is going after it every single time,” said Wellington head coach Luke Letham, who noted Ritzand was the team’s best player last season when as a ninth grade he averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. “Now, he’s worked on his strength and conditioning a lot so he’s stronger and quicker. Plus, he’s developed a shot. So he’s pretty hard to stop.”
His jump-shooting abilities have clearly made a difference.
On Wednesday, he hit three first-quarter triples. Then, when the tempo of the game calls for grit, he manufactured eight second-half free throw trips.
Jacob Meriless added 13 points for the winners.
Davis Lee (18 points) and Roop Jaswal (14 points) led the Sharks.
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