LANGLEY — We’ve gone final here on Day 2 of the 2020 B.C. senior boys basketball championships.
Here’s your game reports!
ALL STORIES BY Howard Tsumura
TOP HALF DRAW
No. 1 Duchess Park 84 No. 9 Pitt Meadows 68
LANGLEY — One full year later, the Duchess Park Condors get to face their demons head on.
In the 2019 B.C. Triple A semifinals, the Condors fell victim to a banked three-point dagger by North Delta’s Suraj Gahir with just under three seconds remaining before falling to the eventual champion Huskies 62-61.
“This feel amazing,” admitted Condors’ Grade 11 guard guard Caleb Lyons, who along with the rest of his teammates engineered an 84-68 win over the Pitt Meadows Maruaders on Thursday to complete their Final Four return.
“It was one of our goals to get back to this game, and it wasn’t the prettiest of things,” said Condors head coach Jordan Yu, who got 28 points from Lyons and 19 more from senior combo guard Jackson Kuc in the victory.
“But all the credit goes to Pitt Meadows,” added Yu, “because they are a scrappy team.”
Yu said the team focused on trying to stop Iman Ostovari (20 points, 11 rebounds), as well as Ryan Tugas (17 points) and Brendan Pardy (10 points), and although all reached double figures on offence, it was enough for them to get over the hump, especially after outscoring the Marauders 24-12 over a pivotal third quarter.
“We’re blessed with some longer guards and overall height so we can switch a lot of things,” added Yu. “So we just tried to stay in front of them, challenge shots, and then box out and get going in transition because we didn’t want to see that press of theirs. We needed to get some easy hoops.”
Conor Lewis added 12 points for the winners and post Emir Zejnulahovic another 11 to go along with a team-high 13 rebounds, as the Condors now prepare to face the Sir Charles Tupper/St. Patrick’s winner on Friday (3:30 p.m.) in the Final Four.
No. 4 Sir Charles Tupper 64 No. 5 St. Patrick’s 60
LANGLEY — With less than a minute remaining in the game and his Sir Charles Tupper Tigers clinging to a three-point lead, head coach Jeff Gourley stared at a reporter and uttered a pair of words.L
“Twenty-nine,” the veteran boss of the East Vancouver squad said, before returning to the task at hand: Attempting to lead his team past the rival St. Patrick’s Celtics in the quarterfinal round of the 2020 B.C. senior boys AAA championships at the LEC.
Through sheer grit and a little good fortune, the Tigers managed to pull the trick, edging the Celtics 64-60.
And when Gourley was asked after the game what he was referring to when he said “29”, this reporter assumied it was in reference to the number of free throws his team missed in dodging a bullet and advancing to the school’s first Final Four since its second-place finish in 2015.
“No, not free throws, that’s how old I am,” laughed Gourley, a greybeard who wears his seasoned whiskers well.
Hey, nothing makes you feel young more than a win, and this was a huge one from Tupper’s perspective.
“They were the ones that scared me the most,” said Gourley of the Celtics. “They are so explosive and well-coached and they’ve been together forever and ever.”
Daniel Marcelo’s 16 points for St. Pat’s led all scorers while Jose Malabanan added 12 in the loss.
Luke Tobias had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Tigers who face Victoria’s Lambrick Park Lions on Friday for a berth in the finals.
Noah Basas added 11 points, and Matt Dunkerley scored six points while grabbing 15 rebounds.
BOTTOM HALF DRAW
No. 2 Vernon 70 No. 7 St. Thomas More 43
LANGLEY — The Vernon Panthers seemed to serve notice that they are ready to take their final few steps towards winning a B.C. Triple A boys basketball title.
Dominant first- and third-quarter performances, especially on the defensive end, gave them all the fuel they would need to fashion a 70-43 win over the Fraser North champion St. Thomas More Knights, whose late season charge through the pack was finally halted by last season’s championship game silver medalists.
“It was a slow pull-away type of a game,” said Vernon assistant coach Bob Corbett. “STM is hard to guard and hard to score against, so we had to grind it out.”
The Panthers, who lost a heartbreaker in last season’s B.C. final to the North Delta Huskies, held the Knights to just 26 combined points between the first and third quarters in a game they led wire-to-wire.
The victory sends the Panthers into a 5:15 p.m. semifinal Friday against the G.W. Graham Grizzlies of Chilliwack.
Three players familiar to those who watched Vernon’s run to the title game a year ago, continued to impress Thursday.
Isaiah Ondrik led the way with 20 points and 15 rebounds, while Trent Charlton chipped in 13 and point guard Zack Smith with a dozen.
Point guard Gabe Nacario led STM with 12 points.
Corbett said the coaching staff has worked hard this season to insure the team doesn’t look too far ahead after both losing in the 2019 final and having virtually its entire team return.
“We tell them every season is a lifetime, every season starts again, and you need to get there on your own,” said Corbett. “We’ve had our ups and downs, but these kids are competitors.”
The Grizzlies will provide stiff competition.
Vernon lost to G.W. Graham just over a week after coming off its B.C. championship football season in the final of the Grizzlies own invitational.
“Their size is a big challenge, they switch up their zones quite a bit, and they are long bodies so they press fairly well,” summed Corbett. “They defend well so you have to attack them.”
No. 3 G.W. Graham 85 No. 11 Magee 77
LANGLEY — The final seconds ticked off the game clock, and for the fifth time in program history, Chilliwack’s G.W. Graham Grizzlies had qualified for the Final Four.
Thursday’s 85-77 win over unheralded but gutsy and skilled Magee Lions of Vancouver had done the trick, yet the post-game celebration was muted, something that did not escape the notice of Grizz head coach Jake Mouritzen.
“We don’t seem that excited, I think they really have their minds set on four wins this week so I am going to make sure we go in and appreciate where we are,” said Mouritzen, whose team will face the No. 2 seeded, 2019 runner-up Vernon Panthers in Friday’s 5:15 p.m. semifinal.
At the start of the week, Mouritzen was quoted in VarsityLetters as stating that it would be nice to get four wins this season, after the Grizzlies had gone to four final fours and four Elite 8s over the years.
“But there are so many good basketball teams out there, and the fact that we get to the play in the Final Four, that’s nothing we will ever take for granted.”
On Thursday, it was impossible to ignore G.W. Graham point guard Cairo Almarez, not just for his game-high 28 points, but his two-way play and on-court leadership.
“Cairo is so under the radar right now,” said Mourtizen. “I can’t begin to explain how much better his defence has gotten from September until now. He is the real deal, and some college is going to find him.”
Still, the game wasn’t without its battle for the Grizzlies.
“We got into foul trouble and when the Klims get into foul trouble that changes the game,” Mourtizen said of twin 6-foot-9 brothers Matthias and Zach. “So hats off to Magee, their bigs (Aaron Ungprasert 18 points, Rourke Macdonald 16 points, 14 rebounds, five blocks) played awesome and we had trouble containing him.”
Zach Klim finished with 11 points and 17 rebounds, Jude Hall had 14 points, and Clay Kurtz shone with 24 points.
for the Lions, while Daniel Rocha Zandbergen had 16 and Isaiah Younan 11.
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