Feature High School Boys Basketball

FINAL EDITION – SINGLE-A 2020: Hey Chilliwack, it’s on! No.1 Highroad vs. No. 3 Unity Christian prepare for another battle royale, this one for BC title!

LANGLEY — Welcome to our reports from Friday’s Final Four here at the 2020 B.C. senior boys basketball championships and the Langley Events Centre.

Please check back on this posting throughout the day as we bring you reports from both of today’s semifinals.

By Gary Ahuja (special to Varsity Letters) 




Fernie’s Ryley Leveque leads his Falcons against No. 1 Highroad Academy on Friday in the B.C. 1A semifinals. (Photo by Mary Kessenich property of Vancouver Sports Pictures 2020. All Rights Reserved)

By Gary Ahuja (special to Varsity Letters)

LANGLEY — A monster game from Highroad Academy’s Nico Kattenberg was too much for the Fernie Falcons, ending the fifth seed’s flight in the semifinal round.

Kattenberg scored 25 points while also pulling down 25 rebounds with a pair of blocked shots and steals for good measure as the No. 1-ranked Knights get set for their first title game appearance in a dozen years. With the six-foot-three Grade 11 guard leading the way, Highroad Academy outscored the Falcons 22-12 in the fourth quarter of a 79-68 win.

It was a one-point game with a quarter to play but the Knights scored a dozen of the next 17 points and Fernie was unable to chip away at the deficit.

And for the second straight game, Knights coach Mike Shannon switched things up defensively, going to a 3-2 zone and half-court 1-2-2 press, which seemed to spark his squad.

“It got us a couple of points and then the guys just gritted it out,” said Shannon.

“The guys played their hearts out today,” said Fernie coach AJ Kennedy. “We ran out of gas. A couple of small breakdowns … couple of things don’t go your way, foul call, ball out-of-bounds, jump ball, miss a couple of gimme-shots, those small things add up.”

Another difference was the teams’ respective performances from the charity stripe: while the Knights drilled 80 per cent from the line (8-for-10), the Falcons missed six of 14. 

Asher Hannemann led the Falcons with 21 points and a dozen rebounds while Jake Lampman had 18 points and 10 rebounds. The Knights’ had five players reach double digits with Aidan Morris (18 points, three assists, three steals) complimenting Kattenberg’s massive game.

Fernie now plays Kelowna Christian for the bronze, in search of the program’s first-ever medal.

Meanwhile the Knights are in search of their second title (they also won in 2002) and are making their first title-game appearance since 2008. Shannon was the coach of that team which lost but then stepped away, returning this year when the previous coach stepped away.

He inherited a squad which won bronze at provincials. Shannon watched the 2018-19 Knights as a fan in that semifinal game, drawn to the team when he saw how much fun the players seemed to be having.

They also returned significant talent so a spot in the championship final was not that far-fetched.

Highroad Academy’s Dawson Hatrtskamp eyes the rim as he contends with the Fernie Falcons on Friday. (Photo by Mary Kessenich property of Vancouver Sports Pictures 2020. All Rights Reserved)

Shannon surveyed the players at the start of the season and the answer was unanimous.

“All 12 of them said provincial final, win the championship,” the coach enthused. “That is coming from the kids so all I had to do was drill some stuff into them.”

Up next for Highroad Academy is an all-Chilliwack final as they face their local rivals, the Unity Christian Flames for a fifth time. The Knights are a perfect 4-0 so far.

The Flames are coming off a dominating defensive performance which saw them held the high-flying Kelowna Christian Knights to 34 points.

“We have played those guys four times this year and come out lucky, but they are flying right now. They put their traps on and man-to-man press and they do really well with it. That is something they haven’t used against us so it will be a game,” Shannon cautioned.



Unity Christian’s Keegan Schurmann (right) runs into Josh Flood of Kelowna Christian on Friday in the B.C. 1A Final Four at the LEC. (Photo by Mary Kessenich property of Vancouver Sports Pictures 2020. All Rights Reserved)

By Gary Ahuja (special to Varsity Letters) 

LANGLEY — Thirty-four points – in a typical game, that is equivalent to about a quarter and a half of the usual offensive production for the high-flying Kelowna Christian Knights.

But as the adage goes, defence wins championships, and if Friday’s night’s BC High School 1A Boys Tournament is any indication, Chilliwack’s Unity Christian Flames delivered a defensive performance for the ages.

A three-seed beating a two-seed does not classify as a major upset but the way the Flames did so in Friday’s first semifinal contest was shocking. In the first two games, Kelowna Christian (who entered with five returnees from last year’s championship squad) averaged 90 points per contest.

The Flames came out smoking in the first quarter building a 24-13 lead and were up 36-21 at halftime. And while many may have expected the Knights to use the break to regroup, refocus and get back into the game, Kelowna Christian had no answer, scoring just 13 second-half points as Unity Christian won going away, 72-34 to advance to the first championship game in program history.

Even Unity coach Dave Bron was surprised with just how well his squad played on their end of the floor.

“I have not seen our defence play that well. That was a surprise how well everyone bought in,” he said. “The buy in and the trust? It takes a lot of trust to rotate and leave your guy and that trust that someone is going to have your back and they did it tonight.”

The Flames also drew six offensive fouls in the game, five of which came in the first half and took key Kelowna Christian players either out of the game completely or out of their usual game plan. Unity Christian also came up with nine blocked shots making life difficult for the Knights shooters no matter where they attempted from.

The Knights also shot less than 20 per cent from the field and missed eight of 10 foul shots.

“Their defence was awesome. That was the lowest (offensive output) we have had in years. We weren’t good and they were good, that’s all there is to say,” summed up Knights coach Dan Benson.

And while Kelowna Christian could not buy a shot, the Flames were hot, connecting on nearly 65 per cent of their field goals in the first quarter and at just over 28 per cent for the half. Many of their first-half points came from drives through the lane. By the time their shots stopped falling, the lead was insurmountable as they finished the game with a 37.3 per cent shooting percentage.

Keegan Schuurman led the Flames with 24 points and a dozen rebounds as well as three assists, three blocked shots and two steals. Colby Vander Kooi had 20 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, four blocked shots and a steal. Jake Sabbagh (who was saddled with foul trouble the entire game) led Kelowna Christian with 14 points, 19 rebounds, two assists, two blocks and two steals.

The Knights will play either Highroad Academy or Fernie for the bronze while the Unity Christian gets the winner in the gold-medal game. The Flames did not play Fernie this season but are all too familiar with Highroad Academy, their Chilliwack rivals who won all four games against Unity Christian this season.

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