LANGLEY — We’re getting older, and when that happens, it becomes time to extend that wingspan even further.
The Tsumura Basketball Invitational, which has become early-season appointment viewing at the Langley Events Centre for B.C.’s best boys and girls basketball teams, will turn eight this coming December.
Today, as we begin to reveal which schools which will populate this season’s two tournaments, it’s time to also announce the big changes taking place within the TBI structure and format.
For the first time, we’ve expanded the fields of both the boys and girls tournaments to 20 teams each.
That means each tournament will feature four days of action, from Wednesday through Saturday (Dec. 4-7 boys, Dec. 11-14 girls), all within the intimate viewing atmosphere at the LEC, site of the provincial senior and junior boys and girls championships each February-March.
In both instances, Wednesday’s Day 1 schedule will feature eight teams playing in four opening-round games.
Each of those four winners will plug into Thursday’s eight-game championship quarterfinal bracket, while the same day, the Wednesday losers will also play each other.
Every team is guaranteed four games, with the possibility for some of playing five.
At a future date we will publish the draws for both tournaments.
This week, however, we’ll introduce each tournament field, beginning today, in alphabetical order, with the boys:
A.R. MACNEILL RAVENS — Led by guard Jackson Thackwray and forward Hudson Swaim, the Richmond school is coming off a B.C. AAA Final Four appearance.
BELMONT BULLDOGS — Rising senior forward Markus Modrivic will be one of the most influential front-court player in the province this coming season and guard Hunter Thomson one of the most under-rated.
BURNABY SOUTH REBELS — The key players from the Rebels’ 2017 B.C. JV champions have now graduated. Right on cue, to supplement an already-talented returning core, the key members of the 2019 B.C. JV champs arrive, including 6-foot-5 Karn Aujla.
CENTENNIAL CENTAURS — Dom Parolin and Leif Skelding are ready to have impact senior seasons in 2019-20. Last season, the Centaurs were TBI newbies. In December, they enter among the favourites in the 20-team field to win it all.
CLAREMONT SPARTANS — Not a secret on Vancouver Island, they will soon reveal their quality to the rest of the province. The 6-foot-9 Ethan Boag, a rising Grade 11, already has a senior season under his belt. Nik Babaeff, Kyle Pepper and Spencer Simeao also help to give head coach Brandon Dunlop a team on the rise.
DUCHESS PARK CONDORS — The springboard to a season in which they are being counted among the favourites to challenge No. 1 Vernon, the Condors have a bonafide shot-making star in rising Grade 11 Caleb Lyons and rising group ready to grow together.
FLEETWOOD PARK DRAGONS — They’ll be senior laden with at least seven Grade 12’s seeing floor time. Bhavrup Gosal and Divjot Pataria will be frontcourt anchors, while in the backcourt Amrit Bassi teams with rising Grade 10 Rav Randhawa to set the tone for one of the province’s set-to-surprise teams.
G.W. GRAHAM GRIZZLIES — They will be built around their rising senior Twin Towers of 6-foot-7 Matthias and 6-foot-8 Zack Klim, who last season combined to average just under 22 rebounds per game.
HERITAGE WOODS KODIAKS — Guard Chris Moon and forwards Morgan Liski and Nik Bartulin return from the Quad A No. 15 seeds who stunned No. 2 Kitsilano. The big add? After sitting out last season on a transfer, 6-foot-9 Grade 11 post Maxx Davidson steps into the paint.
HOLY CROSS CRUSADERS — They’ve got five main rotation players, all headed into their senior seasons return. After a few seasons of coming close but failing to grab the brass ring, they’re the first ones at the Quad A level that you would say are due to win the big one.
KELOWNA OWLS — Incredibly resilient in the face of heavy grad tolls, the Owls have been hurt a lot worse in past seasons. This time around, a gaggle of guards return from the team which surprised everyone by getting to last month’s B.C. Quad A championship game.
LORD TWEEDSMUIR PANTHERS — Program patriarch Raj Bagry steps in as head coach following the storybook title-winning ways of Drew Gallacher. There might not be a single player being leaned on more around the province than rising Grade 12 forward Jackson Corneil.
NEW WESTMINSTER HYACKS — They’ll be senior laden under the guidance of veteran coach Ted Cusick. The 6-foot-6 leaper Kirk Bothwell and the 6-foot-4 shooter Luke Burton will be key, as will a full, healthy season from rising Grade 11 Caleb Johnson.
OAK BAY BAYS — It’s the start of a new chapter post-Diego Maffia. Head coach Chris Franklin likes the speed of guard Ethan Moore, and Jaime Molins showed last season he is the kind of player who can quietly put up big numbers on the offensive end. There’s also Noah Takacs, a top pitching prospect with not only a low-90s fastball, but a 6-foot-3 frame that will give the Bays even more depth.
R.A. MCMATH WILDCATS — Their core will be young, yet their chemistry, especially within the starting five, could be huge for a team led by rising Grade 11 guard Travis Hamberger. McMath’s junior this past season lost in the B.C. final to Burnaby South.
ST. MICHAELS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL BLUE JAGS — The rising senior troika of Karter Fry, Noah Helman and Will Kinahan will be huge for a SMUS group making the leap to Triple A. Big boost could come from a rising Grade 10 point guard Izzy Helman.
SEAQUAM SEAHAWKS — Two seasons ago, this group finished sixth at the B.C. JV’s. Their Grade 11 year was all about transition, and if Dylan Anderson, Sham Wahla, Jayden Panganiban and Justyn Barn can put forth the best combination of their skill and emotion, they could surprise.
SIR CHARLES TUPPER TIGERS — As is the sign of any great program, when heavy grad tolls hits, those rising talents just waiting for their turn, don’t hesitate to grab hold of their opportunity. Head coach Jeff Gourley likes the level of talent he will be able to surround bigs Luke Tobias and Matt Dunkerley with.
TERRY FOX RAVENS — Too much reinvention isn’t required here, yet the Ravens will be a fascinating team to watch through the early going as they determine a rotation outside of key returnees Cam Slaymaker and Ko Takahashi. A rising JV group which pushed second-place Van College in the Sweet 16 at the B.C. juniors may be the wildcard.
WALNUT GROVE GATORS — The Gators played their best with a chip on their shoulder last season. Talent abounds, but it’s still too early to tell how it’s all going to come together for Reid Taylor, one of the province’s up-and-coming young head coaches.
(Later this week: We unveil the TBI 2019 senior girls 20-team field)
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