LANGLEY — We are complete here after Day 1 at the Tsumura Basketball Invitational’s senior boys Super 16 draw.
QUARTERFINALS (all games at Centre Court)
3:30 p.m. — Kelowna vs. St. Patricks
5 p.m. — Burnaby South vs. Enver Creek
6:45 p.m. — Vancouver College vs. Fleetwood Park
8:15 p.m. — Oak Bay vs. Sir Winston Churchill
VANCOUVER COLLEGE 83 BURNABY MOUNTAIN 76
LANGLEY — The Burnaby Mountain Lions are every provincial-contending team’s absolute worst nightmare.
And who knows, if they play the way they did for most of Wednesday’s matchup against the Quad-A No. 3-ranked Vancouver College Fighting Irish, the unranked Lions might become one of those so-called favourites themselves.
The Mountain led by as many as 12 points midway through the second quarter, but perhaps most impressive was all the way in which the Greg Matic-coached squad from the foot of Burnaby Mountain kept maintaining a two-to-three possession lead over their marquee foes for most of the game.
In the end, the Irish needed a Vince Velasquez three at the third quarter buzzer to take a 54-53 lead they would not relinquish.
Vancouver College moves on to face the Fleetwood Park Dragons-Walnut Grove Gators winner in a 6:45 p.m. quarterfinal on Thursday.
“They played so hard and we came out with low energy,” said Vancouver College head coach Mer Marghetti. “They came out low-energy and not playing our game, but once we did what we do, we did well.”
That is press, steal, run and score.
The Irish lost a squeaker in the semifinals of the Heritage Woods Kodiak Classic to AAA No. 1 St. Patrick’s last Friday in Port Moody and that hangover, plus the fact that they were getting a number of players back from its Subway Bowl winning football team may have contributed to what the coach was speaking of.
Yet in no way can an ounce of anything be taken away from the pure-guts effort of the Lions.
Addison Button and Lorenzo Bonamin, respective 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-5 senior forwards, scored 23 and 19 points while providing the kind of front-court toughness needed to grind out points at the tempered pace Burnaby Mountain was so successful at dictating through the first two-and-a-half quarters.
Yet eventually, it was the Irish’s vaunted three-headed backcourt that turned the tide.
With Mikyle Malabuyoc (23 points), Isaiah Bias (19 points) and Vince Velasquez (11 points) not only combining for 53 points but just as important, anchoring a devastating full-court press which the Irish hung late on the Lions. With stunning efficiency, the damage was done.
Freddie Sale added 12 for the winners, while Parker Antonio’s added eight off the bench for Burnaby Mountain.
FLEETWOOD PARK 92 WALNUT GROVE 67
LANGLEY — Ask Nick Day about the way his Fleetwood Park Dragons play the game, and he’ll first point to his heart.
“These guys play all year, but there is something special about playing for your school and that’s what were trying to embrace,” the co-coach of Surrey’s Dragons said Wednesday after his team fell down early to Langley’s Walnut Grove Gators, but then caught a whiff oF something contagious and went on a game-flipping 29-5 run before the half.
“They really do enjoy each other’s company.. so we’re going to try and have as much fun as we can.”
The leaders of the Fleetwood Fun Bunch?
How about guard Inder Deol and forward Izaec Oppal,a pair of Grade 11s?
Both scored 21 points, with each hitting big threes and making the passes that made all of their teammates better.
“We have a few kids that can shoot it but Inder can definitely shoot it, and when the other team got the momentum a little bit today, he’s able to get the big shots and get the momentum back for us,” said Day. “He definitely is an engine for us.”
The 6-foot-1 Deol got a lot of support from players like Aaron Uppal (11 points), Rohan Dhanoa (13 points) Eesher Sarai (nine points) and Jodhin Bhangoo (nine points).
And then there was Oppal.
Listed as a 6-foot-3 guard, he is a bona-fide wide-body type with a multitude of skills and a belief that there is no standard mold for any of his sports positions.
Imagine a B.C. high school basketball version of Charles Barkley and you’ve got a better idea of what Oppal is like to watch. Add his obvious joy for the game, and he is an instant crowd favourite.
On Wednesday, his 21-point outing included five triples, a steal and a coast-to-coast fast-break lay-in, and one instance where he ran the point, using a form-perfect hesitation dribble to freeze his defender and glide to the rim for a lay-in.
“Izaec is just an awesome personality… he loves the game and he is not our typical basketball body maybe,” smiled Day, who was then asked about his three-point shooting.
“That is maybe not part of the game plan but he can shoot it and share it well,” he said.
The Dragons will face Vancouver College in a 6:45 p.m. quarterfinal Thursday, the contest a rematch of B.C. Quad-A quarterfinal match-up from last March where the Irish vanquished Fleetwood Park 94-79 en route to the Final Four.
The Gators got 21 points Wednesday from Kaizer Nystrom, 14 from Joey Adams, 13 from Josh Marriott and none from Bo Kim.
SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL 78 ST. THOMAS MORE 59
LANGLEY — Paolo Murphy, Jackson Bryson and the rest of the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs may be the only team in the TBI Super 16 draw to have missed out on punching a ticket to last season’s B.C. championships.
Yet ask head coach Steven Xu about all of that, and he’s quick to point out that it’s created a built-in hunger to the new 2022-23 season that is almost palpable.
“They are hungry since the first day, especially those Grade 12s,” Xu said, referencing the likes of Paulo Murphy and Jackson Bryson. “They have been leading the team through every practice and they bring so much energy to this team.”
The Bulldogs brought a lot of that to the opening round here at TBI on Wednesday, parlaying a 31-13 third quarter en route to a 78-59 opening-round win over Burnaby’s St. Thomas More Knights.
Missing the provincials last season after not having a season in 2020-21 only magnified the collective pang of the senior class, but delve a little further, and Xu reveals that the Bulldogs have their own piece of built-in motivation in the form of the team’s narrow loss to St. Patrick’s in the 2020 B.C. junior boys championship final.
Labelled by no less than the late Rich Goulet as one of the best basketball games he had ever seen, Murphy saw floor time and Bryson sat on the bench as a pair of ninth graders in the historic contest.
And the experience of that environment has been something the pair have passed on to their teammates.
“We have viewed that game so many times,” said Xu. “Before the playoffs we watched it to get mentally ready. It gives you a feeling and shows you situations and mistakes that help you get better.”
The re-run is making its presence felt.
Grade 11s Thomas Jefferson and Luka Subotic scored 20 and 16 points respectively in the win, while Bryson added 18 and Murphy another eight.
Chris Ainsley led St. Thomas More with 19 points while Tarrence Booker added 15.
The win pushes SWC into an 8:15 p.m. centre court quarterfinal Thursday against the Oak Bay-Holy Cross winner.
ENVER CREEK 69 BYRNE CREEK 58
LANGLEY — Surrey’s Enver Creek Cougars went to their reserves entering the fourth quarter on Wednesday, and what head coach Phil Deeks discovered is that there was enough in the tank to put some distance between his team and Burnaby’s Byrne Creek Bulldogs.
The Cougars turned a 44-44 tie after three quarters into an 11-point win and are set to face the Burnaby South-SMUS winner in a 5 p.m. quarterfinal Thursday on Centre Court,
Ajaypal Hayer led the winners with 21 points, Gurshan Sran added 19 and Angat Dhaliwal 13 more.
Mamadee Jawara paced Byrne Creek with 20 points while Atawa Baraba added 12 more.
ST. PATRICK’S 87 CLAREMONT 77
LANGLEY — In case you needed any proof that Kaden Carrion was all the way back from the broken leg he suffered in last season’s B.C. Triple-A championships, all you had to do was watch him at work on Wednesday.
On the opposition baseline, closely guarded, and needing to pull out a move built not only on deception but on dynamic stop-start acceleration, the 5-foot-9 St. Patrick’s guard rocked back, went to the hesitation dribble and then feathered home an and-one runner which eventually put his team ahead 83-74 and all but sank the hopes of Victoria’s upset-minded Claremont Spartans.
“Throughout the summer I put in a lot of hard work and that last move tonight… coach told me it’s my time. He said ‘All you right here’ so I just hit it with my signature move.”
To hear Carrion describe it, it’s a “…step back hezzy, blow-by-floater…” which just might be the coolest words uttered here Wednesday on the opening round of the TBI’s Super 16 draw.
Think about that.
Nine months ago, Carrion broke his leg right here at the LEC.
On Wednesday, with that same leg, he executed a move under-pinned with the need for extreme stability, owing to the start, stop, start nature that the hesitation dribble-drive demands.
With the way Joey Panghulan (17 points) has developed as a key piece of everything the Celtics do, and the way, of course, that Irish Coquia is playing like best player in B.C, there is a certain veneer of invincibility forming around St. Patricks, even though they are still a pretty small team and, in warm-up drills, not exactly imposing.
On Wednesday, Claremont matched them step for step most of the way, getting 22 points from forward Camden Sparkes, 21 from guard Mike Smith and 17 more from Grade 10 guard J Helman.
Yet with the 6-foot-1 senior guard Coquia around and seemingly a bounce away from beginning a game-changing run at any time, surviving the Celtics’ stretch drive might be the toughest task in all of provincial high school hoops.
This time around, Coquia keyed a game-ending 16-5 run over the final 5:19 with his floater, his free throws, his jumper, his defence, and his passing.
He finished with 44 points and led the team into a Friday quarterfinal clash against the Kelowna-Elgin Park winner on Thursday at 3:30 p.m.
That Carrion could put in the work to join his teammates, and especially the electric Coquia, and to return as the same kind of player, with the same kind of explosion just makes it all the better from the Celtics’ perspective.
And Carrion is thrilled beyond words to get his old game back.
“Feels good to be back on the court with my guys,” he begins. “All of this feels great. You know, our goal is get an undefeated season. We’ve won two (B.C.) banners and in each of those season the team lost two games.
“Hopefully, we can make history, and I just feel that we have a really good chance.”
BURNABY SOUTH 84 ST. MICHAELS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL 48
LANGLEY — The defending Tsumura Basketball Invitational champions looked ready to begin their title defence on Wednesday.
Led by the 19 points of 6-foot-4 senior forward Malik Hussein, the Burnaby South Rebels topped Victoria’s St. Michaels University School Blue Jags in decisive fashion.
Guard Greg Petalcorin with 14 points, and forward Andy Chen with 15 points, both seniors, joined the offence as the Rebels, who hit just two three-point baskets on the game, parlays a 27-12 second quarter into a 48-25 lead.
The Blue Jags were led by Grade 11 guard Kian Colgate 19 points and senior guard Max Clayton with nine more.
KELOWNA 92 ELGIN PARK 74
LANGLEY — As he came off the court Wednesday after the final game of the TBI’s Super 16 Day 1 draw, Kelowna Owls head coach Harry Parmar was asked about Will Keyes, the 6-foot-11 senior centre he had patrolling the hardwood at the Langley Event Centre’s Centre Court complex.
“I remember that I sat Will down in my office last season to tell him that he made the team,” laughed Parmar of a player who was just beginning to embrace the game prior to his 2021-22 Grade 11 season. “He looked at me and he said ‘What I made the team?’ I told him he was 6-11 and that he would do just fine.”
Well, Year 2 is definitely starting to pay dividends for Keyes.
On a night in which no one questioned the dominance of Elgin Park’s 6-foot-7 senior guard/forward Adam Olsen and his tremendous, game-high 38-point performance, Keyes was the ‘Who’s that?’ presence on the floor.
“Totally, he’s a late bloomer, and I am not sure anyone in the province knows about him,” smiled Parmar, who got 29 points from Keyes in the victory.
“Last year he was just learning,” continued Parmar, whose team bowed out of the provincial Quad-A playoffs in the second round 76-67 against the eventual-champion Burnaby South Rebels last March.
“This year he is a big piece of what we’re doing and each game he’s getting better and better. But he needs to play harder than he does. He needs to know that he can dominate the game, and when he believes it, once he gets that mentality, I think even bigger things will come.”
The Owls showed a lot of depth on Wednesday.
The program known for its deep player rotations got a lot of others involved in their win over the Orcas.
Nash Semeniuk had 16 points, Owen McFarland and Walker Sodaro had 14 apiece, and Nate Smith added 12 more.
Mattix Harrison had 15 points for the Orcas, while Dylan Homenick had 10 points.
Kelowna will face St. Patrick’s in a quarterfinal game tipping off 3:30 p.m. on Thursday.
OAK BAY 74 HOLY CROSS 42
LANGLEY — Our apologies, but the scoresheet produced for the Bays-Crusaders game was no reliable enough to be used.
The Bays advance to face Sir Winston Churchill in an 8:15 p.m. quarterfinal tomorrow at the LEC’s Centre Court.
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