All stories by Gary Ahuja (special to Varsity Letters)
LANGLEY — Welcome to the opening day of play here at the 2020 B.C. senior boys basketball championships.
Please continue to check back on this posting throughout the day for updates as we wind our way through the eight-game sudden elimination Sweet 16 bracket.
TOP HALF DRAW
No. 1 Highroad Academy 114 No. 16 Maaqtusiis 54
LANGLEY — The Highroad Academy Knights shot a sizzling 53.3 per cent from the field (67.5 per cent in the second half alone) as the top-ranked team advanced to the quarterfinals with a 114-57 win over Maaqtusiis. Elijah Grimard was the top scorer for the team with 24 points and six rebounds while Dawson Hartskamp had a dozen points to go along with is dozen rebounds.
Keith Williams led Maaqtusiis with eight points.
No. 9 Cedars Christian 81 No. 8. Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay 60
LANGLEY — It took until the final game of the 1A tier for the first upset as the No. 9 Cedars Christian Eagles knocked off the No. 8 Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay Thunder 81-60.
The Thunder had raced out to an early nine-point lead in the first quarter, but Cedars Christian finished the period strong to take a three-point lead and then went to the locker room up seven. By the time the third quarter end, the lead was double digits.
This marks the second straight year the Eagles have won their opening round match and now they will look for another victory on the winners’ side of the draw, which would guarantee the school a best-ever finish. Mitchell Crosina’s 23 points and 14 points led the Eagles while the Thunder received a 28-point, seven-rebound effort form Devan Boyko.
NO. 4 Barriere 90 NO. 13 Grand Forks 58
LANGLEY — The last time the Barriere Cougars made the provincial championships in 2002 was the same year the team’s current crop of Grade 12s were born. And with those five seniors, the team has come up agonizingly close the past three years, finishing fourth each time at the Thompson Okanagan zone playoffs, one spot short of continuing their season.
This year the team did not leave getting a shot at provincials to a win-or-go-home game, advancing to the zone semifinals to automatically earn one of the three available spots at B.C.’s. And while they came up short in the Thompson-Okanagan final against perennial powerhouse Kelowna Christian, the Cougars were guaranteed a shot at provincials.
But the team is not content with just showing up.
“Our goal was to get here and make some noise,” said first-year Cougars head Travis Repka. “You want to win that first game, so it is a weight off your shoulders.”
The fourth-seed Cougars took the first step with a convincing 90-58 win over the No. 13 Grand Forks Wolves. The team was up just six after one quarter after what Repka called a nervous first quarter.
“We just told them to take a deep breath. You miss that first lay-up, it’s nerves,” he said. “But after that, we got into our game and played Cougar basketball.
By halftime, the Cougars had stretched their lead to 24 points, and they were off to the races.
Tyson Schilling scored 24 points with eight rebound, three assists and a pair of steals and Tanner Schilling and Aaron VanSickle had 15 points apiece for the fourth-seed Cougars.
Liam Fraser added 24 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals for the 13th-ranked Wolves.
NO. 5 Fernie 86 NO. 12 E’cole Gabrielle-Roy 74
LANGLEY — The scary thing for opposing teams? The high-flying Fernie Falcons scored 51 first-half points despite what their coach said was not their best shooting night. The fifth-seeded squad shot 41.2 per cent from the field but were just 2-for-18 (11.1 per cent) from downtown.
Leading the way for the Falcons was Asher Hannemann who scored 32 points, grabbed a dozen rebounds while also dishing out seven assists and coming up with seven steals.
“He’s our engine. He drives our team. He goes, we go,” said Falcons coach AJ Kennedy. “He just goes about his game and gets basket after basket. You don’t even realize he gets that many points.”
BOTTOM HALF DRAW
NO. 2 Kelowna Christian 92 NO. 15 Deer Lake 72
LANGLEY — Indy Hallett picked up right where he left off last March for the defending 1A champion Kelowna Christian Knights. Named the Player of the Game in last year’s championship final, Hallett scored 13 of his game-high 28 points in the first quarter for an explosive Knights offence in a 92-72 victory over Burnaby’s Deer Lake Falcons in the 2 vs. 15 match-up to get the action underway on Wednesday.
And the Falcons made the two-seed work for the victory, never leading at any point in the contest, but keeping the score close in the first quarter and after falling behind by as many as 21 points in the second quarter, cutting the deficit down to 13 points early in the third.
But in the end, Kelowna Christian had a few too many weapons with the trio of Hallett (28 points), Jake Sabbagh (21 points) and Josh Flood (16 points) leading the way. Deer Lake’s Michael Mvundura had 18 points and Marcus Tsang (15 points) and Joel Bernard (14 points) were tops for the Falcons.
NO. 7 Glenlyon Norfolk 73 NO. 10 Similkameen 57
LANGLEY —The Glenlyon Norfolk Gryphons shot nearly 51 per cent from the field as they opened with a 73-57 win over the No. 12 Similkameen Sparks. The Gryphons – the No. 4 seed and Vancouver Island champions – also clamped down defensively in the second and third quarters, allowing the Sparks just a combined 15 points over that 20-minute stretch.
Connor Elliott’s 25 points while Sam Zhao added 19 points and 11 rebounds. Quinn Carignan scored 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the No. 10 Sparks.
The victory sets up a quarterfinal clash with the defending champs from Kelowna Christian, the No. 2 seed. Both these teams made the final four in 2019, although they were on opposite sides of the draw and did not meet and the Gryphons finishing in fourth place.
No. 6 St. John’s 71 No. 11 McBride 64
LANGLEY — The McBride Mustangs had a fast start and furious finish, but the No. 6 St. John’s Eagles did more than enough in the middle to cushion those blows, advancing to the quarterfinal round with a 71-64 win over the No. 11 seed.
The Mustangs led by five in the first quarter before the Eagles took a seven-point lead to halftime and extended the advantage to 18 with a quarter to play.
Steven Li scored 21 points and grabbed a dozen boards for the Eagles. Clay Cardinal’s 27 points and 11 rebounds led the Mustangs.
The Eagles were outrebounded 47-35 and shot at a lower percentage, but they took better care of the ball than the Mustangs with just eight turnovers compared to McBride’s 18 and finishing with 11 steals versus just three for the Mustangs.
Unity Christian 93 Northside Christian 50
LANGLEY — A 32-point first quarter set the tone for the No. 3 Unity Christian Flames as they torched the No. 14 Northside Christian Northstars 93-50.
The Flames shot 50 per cent from the field over those 10 minutes and while they could not maintain such a great success rate, didn’t dip much the rest of the game as they shot 45, 47.6 and 42.1 per cent for an overall 46.4 per cent clip from the field.
Unity Christian also displayed some crisp ball movement with 18 assists on their 39 field goals.
Four Flames players had at least a dozen points with Colby Vanderkooi leading the way with 16 and a game-high 13 rebounds. Keegan Schuurman finished with 15 points, seen rebounds and four assists.
Regan Unger and Ryan Bulitz had 11 points apiece for the Northstars.
Highroad Academy 114 Maaqtusiis 54
The Highroad Academy Knights shot a sizzling 53.3 per cent from the field (67.5 per cent in the second half alone) as the top-ranked team advanced to the quarterfinals with a 114-57 win over Maaqtusiis. Elijah Grimard was the top scorer for the team with 24 points and six rebounds while Dawson Hartskamp had a dozen points to go along with is dozen rebounds.
Keith Williams led Maaqtusiis with eight points.
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