(Photo by Garrett James property of Vancouver Sports Pictures 2024. All Rights Reserved)
Feature High School Boys Basketball

With Terry Fox’s brothers Darrell & Fred offering pre-game inspiration, Ravens feel ‘invincible’, top St. Pat’s for first BC Jr. Boys title in 22 years!

LANGLEY — Marvin Reyes admitted that before he took to the floor for the pre-game introductions Monday night at the Langley Events Centre for the B.C. junior boys basketball championship final, one of the last things he did was wipe away the tears of emotion from his cheek.

“I did, and so did all of my teammates,” the starting point guard said. “I felt very invincible today. It was a great feeling.”

Reyes and the rest of the Terry Fox Ravens share a bond with one of Canada’s most storied heroes that no one else can claim, and that is the fact that their high school was also Terry’s.

With that in mind, and the Ravens set face East Van’s St. Patrick Celtics in the quest to win the their first provincial junior boys hoops title since 2002, the locker room door opened in the pregame to allow a pair of very special guests to address the room.

“We had Terry’s two brothers come in before the game and they talked about what Terry was made of and it’s what we have been built on all of this season,” Ravens veteran head coach Rich Chambers said of both Darrell and Fred Fox.

The end result?

Terry Fox did their best to honour Terry and his brothers by putting forth a display of focus and shooting they hoped would best honour the actual Fox family, and in the process nailed threes, got much-needed bench production, and finally, put on a display of free throw shooting that an NBA team could most certainly take lessons from.

That, and a zone defence which confounded five straight foes over the past four days ultimately carried the Ravens to a 59-55 title-game win over the Celtics affording another banner moment for a team that cherishes its namesake and its basketball traditions.

Terry Fox head coach Rich Chambers led his team to the school’s first B,C. junior title in 22 years on Tuesday at the LEC, then said there was not a dry eye in the team’s pregame locker room following a visit from Darrell and Fred Fox, the brothers of the school’s namesake and most famous grad, Terry Fox. (Photo by Paul Yates property of Vancouver Sports Pictures 2024. All Rights Reserved)

“You know what, you never know when you’re going to get back to the B.C.’s,” said Chambers. “That’s what I tell these kids every time, that this could be your last time ever, so you have to savour the moment and leave it all out on the floor.” 

On the night, Terry Fox’s 18 free throw trips doubled that of St. Pat’s, but the biggest stat within the stat was the fact that over the final 4:57 of the fourth quarter, the Ravens maintained their five-to-six point lead over the Celtics by going 11-of-14 from the free throw line.

And while each team hit eight threes on the night, the Ravens’ bench outscored the Celtics’ bench 10-0.

“We couldn’t get into our offence quick enough and then just some miscues on defence, and in a game like tonight, the smallest mistakes can cost you a championship,” said St. Pat’s head coach John Boateng. “We just made too many. (Terry Fox) made some really big plays and they made shots.”

Once again, Grade 9 wing Jayson Ikani was stellar, as the wide-winged 6-foot-2 do-it-all scored a team-high 18 points, which included an 8-for-10 night from the stripe.

But beyond Ikani, who was later named the well-deserved tournament MVP, were a cast of players not always cast in leading roles.

Starting guard Korbin Longquist, who had been struggling with his deep shot, opened 0-for-3 from three, but continued to trust in good shooting opportunities when they presented themselves en route to a 14-point outing which included four triples.

Mathew Klassen, coming off the bench as part of Terry Fox’s eight-man rotation, hit two threes and finished with six points. Fellow guard Deklen Martin scored two points.

Starting guard Noah Jeon had five points, all in the pivotal fourth quarter, and posts Maksym Cichechi and Matthew Shnear, while combining for only six points, were clearly a presence which made things all the tougher at both ends for the smaller Celtics.

A star from start to finish, St. Pat’s Riley Santa Juana (left) looks top come off a screen set by teammate Heracles Mai. On the watch is tournament MVP Jason Ikani. (Photo by Garrett James property of Vancouver Sports Pictures 2024. All Rights Reserved)

Amazingly, St. Pat’s star guard Riley Santa Juana looked like he was going to will his team to victory just the way he did the night before in the semifinals against Vancouver College.

Santa Juana scored 15 of his team’s final 18 points, all coming over the final 5:27 of play.

He started off the run by by completing back-to-back three-point plays the old fashioned way, playing through contact and finishing from the free throw line.

He later stepped into a three, went coast to coast for a layin, then hit a triple with 26.4 seconds left to pull his team to within 54-51.

He finished his night by making a layin with 11 seconds remaining which pulled his team to within 57-53.

“That’s what Riley does for us and he did it again tonight,” said Boateng who also got 10 points from Jericho Labrador, nine from Jaiden Quan, six from Heracles Mai and three from Tyson Japuncic. “Riley just led so many comebacks for us.”

Yet while all of that was happening, the Ravens were shutting down evrerything else, playing near-perfect from the free throw line and getting clutch threes of their own down the stretch from both Jeon and Longquist.

Terry Fox point guard Marvin Reyes feeling a different emotion than St. Pat’s guard Jericho Labrador, says he had good reason for feeling invincible coming out of the locker room prior to Monday’s B.C. championship game at the LEC. (Photo by Garrett James property of Vancouver Sports Pictures 2024. All Rights Reserved)

For Ravens’ point guard Marvin Reyes, who finished with eight points on the night, the game was special on so many levels for his family.

Older brothers Jomari (2015) and Marco (2019) also pulled on the Terry Fox jersey but both were unable to bring home B.C. titles at Fox. Marvin, did however, join older sister Marjory who was a member of Ravens’ 2022 B.C. senior Quad-A champs.

“It means the world to them as it does to me,” Marvin Reyes said. “I had a great feeling about this year. At the start it was a little rocky but I knew we could come out on top.”

Turns out they did, and they seemed to know they got an assist from Terry himself to make it happen, that dime delivered through the presence of Darrell and Fred Fox in the pregame locker room.

“That was very inspiraitonal and it helpued us push through,” said Marvin Reyes. “The message was keep pushing through as Terry did… push through the injuries, push through everything you are going through.”

In the end, it made them feel invincible.

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