LANGLEY — In the game of basketball, not all game-ending runs are created equally.
Some come in the midst of blow-outs, while others are a part of rallies that come up short.
Put one together that comes over the final 3:30 of a game in which a provincial title hangs in the balance, however, and you’ve got one that hits the gold standard.
Vancouver’s No. 5-seeded St. George’s Saints did just that on Tuesday, getting better as they grew more tired, stringing together a game-ending 11-0 surge which not only broke the will of Surrey’s No. 3-seeded Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers, but gave the Vancouver all-boys school a 54-46 win for its first B.C. junior boys basketball championship since its one-and-only title back in 2005.
“The first thing is, all season long we preached team work and toughness and we saw that today,” said head coach Guy da Silva, now in his second stint with the St. Geoege’s JVs and the head coach the last time they won it all 13 years ago.
“We were so tight tonight,” admitted da Silva. “We missed so many lay-ups, but we stuck together. What I value most about these guys is that they just play so hard. They were all over the glass ripping down rebounds and for me as a coach, it’s what I am most proud of.”
(Full awards listed below)
Lord Tweedsmuir was masterful for the majority of the first 28 minutes of the 32-minute affair, maintain what seemed like an impenetrable six-point cushion for huge stretches of play.
However after Jason Hans ripped down an offensive rebound and kicked out to the talented guard Jaeden Reid for a three-pointer at the top of the arc for a 46-43 lead with 3:53 remaining, the Panthers never seemed quite the same.
Ao Ma, the physical and athletic 6-foot-3 Saints guard, seemed to leave the door open for the Panthers when he went an uncharacteristic 1-of-4 from the free throw line over separate possessions to make it 46-44.
But St. George’s, en route to winning its fifth game in four days, just got stronger, holding the Panthers pointless for almost final four minutes of the game.
That’s especially big in JV where the quarters are only eight minutes long.
Sam Wooder came back with two free throws, going a collective 14-of-14 the semifinals and final.
Then Ma made the play of the game, pushing the lead to 48-46 with 2:13 remaining when he intercepted a pass and took it right to the rim for a lay-in.
“I told my big fella ‘It’s coming middle,’” da Silva said of Ma. “He read it perfectly and made a great play. When he finished at the rim, that really broke it open for us.”
Wooder would score off a steal to make it 50-46 before Eli Van Haren and Aidan Underwood would each go two-for-two from the stripe to wrap up the game.
“Nerves,” said Tweedsmuir head coach Raj Bagry when asked about what led to the late collapse.”They’re young, they’re kids, and they will learn from it. It’s a learning curve.”
Ma led all scorers with 19 points, while Wooder scored 14 and tournament MVP Jaxon Cohee added 13 points.
After going 19-of-23 in its semifinal win over Vancouver College on Monday, Saints went 12-of-16 on Tuesday for a two-game total of 31-of-39, or 80 per cent.
Reid led the Panthers with 13 points while Josh Hamula added 12 and Jackson Corniel 10.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Jaxon Cohee (St. George’s)
TOP DEFENSIVE PLAYER
Jason Soriano (Vancouver College)
FIRST TEAM ALL-STARS
Hunter Cruz-Dumont (Vancouver College)
Markus Modrovic (Belmont)
Jackson Corneil (Lord Tweedsmuir)
Sam Wooder (St. George’s)
Jaeden Reid (Lord Tweedsmuir)
SECOND TEAM ALL-STARS
Josh Hamulas (Lord Tweedsmuir)
Zack Smith (Vernon)
George Horn (Handsworth Royals)
Mathew Dunkerley (Sir Charles Tupper Tigers)
Dylan Anderson (Seaquam Seahawks)
HONOURABLE MENTION ALL-STARS
Sahil Sandhu (Vancouver College)
Isaiah Ondrik (Vernon)
Hunter Thomsen (Belmont)
Justin Sunga (Burnaby South)
Ao Ma (St. George’s)
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