(Note to readers: We will be posting four separate stories on each of the semifinal games played Friday at the Tsumura Basketball Invitational. Some may appear Saturday morning. Keep checking back for updates — Tsumura)
LANGLEY — It wasn’t hard for the spotlight to find Jacob Oreta as Final Four Friday arrived here at the Tsumura Basketball Invitational’s Select 16 semifinal.
Oreta didn’t have his best day from the free throw line, yet it was pretty hard to nitpick with anything that the 6-foot Grade 11 guard did as he helped led Burnaby’s St. Thomas More Knights to a 58-48 win over Vancouver’s Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs.
Whenever a play was needed, at either end of the floor, Oreta made it, and the sum energy of his efforts insured that by the time the final horn sounded, that STM was playing its best ball of the game.
“Twenty-seven points,” said Knights’ head coach Denzel Laguerta with pride. “He has been giving us a lot of explosive energy. We’re such a tiny team and I get on him really hard because he can do a lot. He is one of our better rebounders, and that is a part of him that is undfer-rated. And he absolutely attacks the rim with ferocity.”
Boil all that down, and it’s the main reason why the Knights — a team of near-exclusive Grade 11 players who won the B.C. junior title last season — have been able to make a quicker-than-expected transition to the senior varsity ranks.
The best example of his two-way play was stripe steal at one end of floor, a coast-to-coast sprint down the court, before an attacking move drew a foul and sent him to the free throw line.
Oreta went 1-of-2 as part of a frustrating 5-for-13 day from the stripe, but even the basketball purists who watched would have told you: “Details, details, details.”
Said Oreta of stepping up big at both ends of the floor: “That is my big role. I am the slasher, the player that can pick up the pace for my team and create some options for the rest of my teammates.”
And as he has said all week, Laguerta continued to keep in focus how a young team’s journey — now one with a five-game win streak heading into Saturday’s final — continues to build on the lessons learned from every success and failure.
“I felt like our guys were flat to begin with, but it could just be that this was Day 3,” he said. “But one of the perks of being in TBI is how it could potentially help down the line, if we potentially get to the BC’s. We just had to fight through the fatigue against a good team and get to the finals.”
TBI, STM’s own Chancellor Invitational and the BC Championships all feature four games in four days and a 16-team pool.
Rylan Chau added 14 points for STM, his back-to-back treys from the respective baseline corners were a huge part of the Knights’ second-half surge
Samito Oguri, a tall-timber 6-foot-7 Grade 11 forward, led the Bulldogs with 27 points, hinting at a bright future beyond the high school level as he hones his huge base of skills and adds strength to his frame.
Nixon Owosu, SWC’s 6-foot-7 senior, was especially effctive early and finished with 14 points.
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