LANGLEY — From Ty Rowell to James Woods to Jarrett Jacobs.
Game-changing guards with a thirst for the provincial tournament don’t grow on trees, but in a place called Walnut Grove, they remain the face of one of the province’s most durable Sweet 16 B.C. tourney qualifiers.
Jacobs, the senior scoring sensation scored a game-high 26 points on Thursday as the Gators used a 32-point second quarter to run away and hide from Port Moody’s gutsy Heritage Woods Kodiaks 95-73 as the Fraser Valley Quad-A championships moved to the Langley Events Centre.
The Kodiaks, led by the dual 22-point performances of Zach Hamed and Arshia Movassaghi, have one last chance to earn a B.C. berth and that will come Sunday (6 .m.) when they face Surrey’s Guildford Park Sabres in the seventh-eighth place game at the LEC.
“We’re lucky to have Jarrett and just like James last year, he makes everyone better” said Gators’ head coach Reid Taylor who has now made the provincial tournament in each of the two seasons since he replaced the legendary former head coach George Bergen at the helm of the program. “He has matured significantly from last year and I am proud of the leadership qualities he has brought.”
The Gators got balanced scoring on Thursday from a pair of underclassmen.
Grade 10 forward Kyle Kong, a Taiwanese international, scored 23 points, while Grade 11 Nolan Premack added 21.
Kong, a newcomer to the team, brings much-needed front-court size and his game, centred squarely around baby jumpers and finishing in close, has become a huge in allowing Jacobs even more room on the floor.
“Kyle is an unbelievable scorer,” added Taylor. “He’s probably shooting around 70 per cent from the field because he just constantly scores around the rim. When he came to the team he was in awful shape, but now he is one of our best-conditioned players and it’s made a big difference.”
With the Gators set to face Coquitlam’s Centennial Centaurs for fifth and sixth place Sunday at the LEC, Taylor loves the way his team has begun to start to reach its potential.
“We have played very stiff competition,” said Taylor of a Valley East schedule which includes Abbotsford, Lord Tweedsmuir and W.J. Mouat twice each in league play alone. “But since the New Year, I think we’ve won 10 of our last 12 games, with a big portion of those against provincial contenders. We are playing our best basketball at the right time.”
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