LANGLEY — If you wanted to see what it looked like to witness one player grabbing a basketball game by the figurative scruff of it’s neck, then you had to be sitting at Centre Court in the Langley Events Centre on Friday night.
With his Centennial Centaurs nursing a seven-point lead with six minutes remaining against Prince George’s ultra-resilient Duchess Park Condors in the semifinals of the 2019 Tsumura Basketball Invitational, 6-foot-7 forward Dominic Parolin decided it was time to take charge.
Although it was easy to get lost in the wash of 39 points he poured home over the game’s four quarters, the prime time Parolin came over the final 5:50 of play as the Quad-A No. 3 Centaurs topped the Triple A No. 3 Condors 83-67 at the Langley Events Centre to earn a berth in Saturday’s championship final.
Centennial will face the winner of No. 1 Burnaby South and No. 2 Kelowna in the 8:30 p.m. title tilt.
First came a dagger three-pointer from the baseline corner to make it 72-62.
Seconds later, in the open floor, Parolin delivered a dart-like dime in the low block to teammate Paul Didenko, setting up the latter for a sure dunk.
With Duchess Park forced to foul, Didenko added a free-throw for a 73-62 lead.
After teammate Dante Petrescu came off the bench to drill a trey, Parolin grabbed back-to-back offensive rebounds, converting the second and then going to the stripe for an and-one conversion.
“I knew I was a lot bigger than them, so I needed to use my size, get to the rim and draw fouls,” said Parolin. “But (Duchess Park) was such a disciplined team. They played so well positionally on defence.”
That’s another way to say that the Condors made things tough on Parolin and the Centaurs.
With 3:37 left in the first half, Duchess Park point guard Tanner Cruz pulled up on the fast break and drained a triple for a 39-28 Condors’ lead.
“I give Duchess a lot of credit,” said Centennial head coach Rob Sollero. “They gave us all kinds of fits.”
While the Centaurs knew they would face a 1-4 high offence, Duchess Park’s was run like a machine.
“Until you actually see it,” said Sollero pausing. “Our guys were confused on how to defend it and early on, it really exposed us.”
Midway through the second quarter however, and then full-time from part way through the third, the Centaurs went into their 2-3 zone defence, and were able to not only rebound out of it, but ultimately control the tempo of the game.
Of course, Parolin led the way.
“He’s smart, such a high IQ guy, and he’s just a load down there,” said Sollero. “But what a lot of people don’t know is that he’s one of our best three-point shooters and when he hit that late one for us, I thought it really stretched out the lead.”
Leif Skelding added 13 points for the winners, while Petrescu and Paul Didenko added 11 each.
Jackson Kuc had 16 for the Condors, with 14 from Caleb Lyons and 13 more from Connor Lewis.
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