SURREY — When a team reflects success on both the tangible and the intangible side of the ledger, you know you’re watching something special unfolding.
On Saturday afternoon (4 p.m.), East Vancouver’s Sir Charles Tupper Tigers will clash with Washington state’s defending Triple-A state champion Garfield Bulldogs in the championship final of the Tamanawis Holiday Classic.
For B.C.’s No. 3-ranked Triple A team, it’s a scenario that became reality after a hard-earned 76-63 win over the host and Quad-A No. 7-ranked Tamanawis Wildcats in Friday’s semifinals.
Garfield beat B.C. Quad-A co-No. 1 Burnaby South 101-68 in the day’s second semifinal.
“There is a certain degree of intensity the guys bring to the floor, and that is one piece of the puzzle that we are always talking to the guys about,” said Tupper head coach Jeff Gourley. “It doesn’t matter if you’re on the bench, or on the floor, when we score a big hoop… you’ve seen the reaction.
“I know it’s so clichéd to say, but it’s a real fellowship. A real fraternity. A real team,” Gourley continued. “I happened to have played basketball in the medieval ages, but I still talk to my old coaches and my ex-teammates. And I know these guys will all share the same kind of thing some day.”
On Friday, they shared the ball, they rebounded, and they got double-digit scoring performances from the likes of guards Norben Bulsoan (17 points) and Joven Dhillon (14 points) and forward Mathew Dunkerley (23 points).
“I am very, very happy,” said Gourley, whose team will get its toughest test of the season against a talented Garfield team whose work ethic matches their own. “(Tamanawis) are a very well-coached team and they threw everything at us that we thought they would, and more.”
Gourley added that he loved the play of his bench, which provided quality minutes throughout, including guard Liam Stanley and Grade 10 centre Luke Tobias.
Tamanawis was never able to find extended traction, despite getting 29 points from the superbly-talented Jeevan Sidhu, and 12 more from fellow senior Parm Sahota.
The Wildcats will face Burnaby South in a 2 p.m. battle for bronze on Saturday.
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