LANGLEY — Here are the reports for all four of Thursday’s Single-A quarterfinals at the B.C. high school championships:
STORIES BY GARY AHUJA (Special for Varsity Letters)
(All games at Field House)
TOP HALF DRAW
3 ABERDEEN HALL 87 NO. 6 DEER LAKE 81
LANGLEY — It was a first half to forget for Kelowna’s Aberdeen Hall Gryphons. The Thompson-Okanagan champions scored just 33 points in the first 20 minutes and trailed by 11 to the No. 6 Deer Lake Falcons.
“We just told them they needed to step up and play with some pride,” explained coach Michael Hooper. “We were not playing with as much heart as they were; they outworked us in that first half, but in the second, we played with some heart and our skill showed.”
Along with skill, it also helped that their shots started dropping.
With just 33 points combined in the first two quarters, the Gryphons exploded for 34 in the third period alone, including a 22-4 run to turn a five-point deficit into a 10-point advantage. They stretched the lead to as many as 23 before the Falcons made a late run to cut the final score to 87-81.
Soren Crumb led the Gryphons with 18 of his 31 points in the final two quarters, while Kyler Assam had 20 and Raajin Hoonjan had 15.
“The effort, the defence,” Hooper said when asked what stood out over the final 20 minutes (save for the late Deer Lake run which reduced the final margin of victory to six). “We played like I know they can. If we play like that, we can make some noise in the next couple of games.”
Hooper has coached the senior program for eight years and 2022 was Aberdeen Hall’s first-ever trip to provincials (they finished sixth).
“We were a small program with not a lot of success, so to even get to provincials last year was huge; to win our first round was huge,” he said. “But to get to the final four, that means so much for our program.”
Grade 9 guard Logan Mirkovich led the Falcons with 24 points, while Tino Jura had 21 and Jason Mvundura had 19.
2 KING DAVID 66 NO. 10 BROOKES WESTSHORE 50
The King David Lions have waited a full year for this moment: another crack at the Aberdeen Hall Gryphons. And now, they get that opportunity.
At the 2022 championships, the underdogs from Aberdeen Hall pulled off the first-round upset, with an 80-76 victory over King David. The two teams will renew acquaintances on Friday afternoon in the semi-final round following the Lions wire-to-wire 66-50 victory over Victoria’s Brookes Westshore Gryphons.
The entire King David roster is back from last year, and unlike 2022, they are fully healthy this time, said coach David Amram
Four Lions scored in double figures, led by Arel Steen’s 20 points, with Joseph Gabay adding 15, Kristian Galazka finishing with 11 and Ezra Heayie chipping in 10.
The Lions used two big scoring runs in the first quarter – 9-0 to open the game and after Brookes Westshore made it 9-8, King David rattled off another 10-0 spurt and maintained a double-digit lead virtually the rest of the way.
“That is something we have tried to pride ourselves on all year, having quick starts and showing the opponent that it is going to be war when they play against us,” Amram said.
This marks the Lions’ fifth appearance at the tournament and win or lose their final two games, it will be the Vancouver school’s first top-four finish.
Alex Buhr was the top scorer for the Gryphons with 16 points while Vigo Gamez Soramae had 11.
BOTTOM HALF DRAW
NO. 1 UNITY CHRISTIAN 96 NO. 8 CEDARS CHRISTIAN 57
The Orange Crush continues to roll, although this time it took some adjustment from their typical game plan and a massive second-half turnaround.
The two-time defending champions from Chilliwack’s Unity Christian found themselves trailing 41-39 as they went to the locker room against Prince George’s Cedars Christian.
“You shoot that well, you break a press that well, you make us pay … it was what they were doing right,” explained Unity Christian coach Dave Bron.
“We got really tight, our rotations weren’t there, we weren’t trusting our press at all. It was like November all over again for some reason.”
But as has been the team’s tradition dating back to the championship game in 2020, Bron kept things light as the team tends to play games to stay loose. And once again, it worked.
“We adjusted, went a little less pressure on the ball, got more in the passing lanes and then shut off the drive and thankfully, they hit a way less percentage,” Bron said.
While the Eagles attack was grounded, the Flames offence came out hot in the third quarter with a 16-3 and by the time the final quarter rolled around, it was 69-48. Unity Christian would ultimately win 96-57. They nearly cracked the 100-point barrier for a second straight game as they put up 126 in their opening round game.
The combination of Jay Smiens (26 points) and Seth Schuurman (24 points) combined for 50 points for the Flames, while Daxton Vander Kooi had 18. Liam Tiefensee led the Eagles with 16 points and Ryan Crosina had 12.
NO. 4 NANAIMO CHRISTIAN 82 NO. 5 ST. JOHN’S 68
Down four points at the half, the Nanaimo Christian Trail Blazers offence found another gear, putting up 50 points as they continue to make school history.
The Trail Blazers rallied to defeat the No. 5 St. John’s Eagles 82-68, advancing to the semi-final round. It marks back-to-back wins for Nanaimo Christian which is playing on the winners’ side of the draw in their third appearance at provincials.
Nanaimo Christian coach Ben Sijpheer said it was a matter of better ball control, specifically not turning the ball over with ill-timed passes.
“We needed to clean up some of those things and we needed to run our fast break,” the coach explained. “And we had a couple of our guards who weren’t pushing the ball like they usually do. Just changing that helped us a lot.”
It also helped that the team’s leading scorer Grade 11 guard Jackson Tonsi scored 26 points while 6-9 forward Calvin Vanderkooi had 24. Thirty-one of their combined 50 points came in the second half. William Johnson also chipped in 14.
St. John’s was led by a 34-point performance from Grade 10 guard Viv Anderson-Francois.
If you’re reading this story or viewing these photos on any website other than one belonging to a university athletic department, it has been taken without appropriate permission. In these challenging times, true journalism will survive only through your dedicated support and loyalty. VarsityLetters.ca and all of its exclusive content has been created to serve B.C.’s high school and university sports community with hard work, integrity and respect. Feel free to drop us a line any time at email@example.com.