After being named the Most Valuable Player of the senior boys’ Triple A basketball provincials, Emeka Okuma forgot the first rule of sports: Don’t drop the ball.
Walking across the hardwood to celebrate, the six-foot-three-inch forward dropped his trophy, decapitating the golden basketball from its base.
It didn’t matter in the big picture because the Grade 12 student led the Dragons to a 73-65 victory over top-ranked Sir Charles Tupper Tigers in the championship game Saturday (March 14) at the Langley Events Centre.
The game didn’t start well for the No. 2 seed Fleetwood Park, who found themselves behind 21-3 after missing all eight of their first-quarter shots inside of the three-point arc.
However, the squad found its rhythm in the second frame, cutting the Tigers lead to nine points going into halftime.
The Dragons went on a 22-4 run, which fell on either side of the break and reduced the East Vancouver school’s lead to a point.
From that moment on, Jordan Taylor’s team retained momentum and forced Tupper into a tough situation when Travis Erickson (later named player of the game) hit three straight triples in the fourth quarter to make the score 61-53.
Okuma, who was three blocks shy of a triple-double in the final (20 points, 18 rebounds and seven blocks), averaged 17.8 points and 15 rebounds over the four-game tournament.
“Our coaches put in our mind that we’re here for a reason and that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” the MVP and first team all-star said.
Coach Taylor said his team suffered from “pre-game jitters” to start the game, but got out of the slump by playing tough defence and attacking Tupper’s zone defence.
“Once our guys started to attack, they really just found the seams and everything just started to click for us,” he said.
Assistant coach Nick Day said he’s never been through a game where he went through so many emotions saying this rollercoaster game was identical to how their season went.
This is the first time the Fleetwood Park senior boys’ program has won a provincial basketball championship and the team will be jumping up to play Quad A basketball next season.
It is also the first time a Surrey public school has won a senior boys’ provincial basketball title at any tier since the 1981 North Surrey Spartans.
Fleetwood Park guard Armaan Khangura, who played the entire season with a broken bone in his hand, was named to the second all-star team.
The Dragons defeated Dawson Creek
(84-34), defending champions St. Thomas More Collegiate (83-73 OT) and No. 3 R.A. McMath (78-75) to get to the final.
DELVIEW TAKES SECOND IN AA In the Double A championship game, the No. 11 Delview Raiders suffered a tough 66-40 loss to Victoria’s St. Michael’s University School.
After the game, Raiders head coach Vlad Nikic told his team not to hang their heads because they “won second place.”
“There are 100 more schools that wanted to be in our shoes right now,” he said. “I can’t be more proud of what these guys and what this school has achieved. We have to be proud of winning second place in this tournament.”
Southridge finished the tournament with the bronze medal after beating West Vancouver’s Collingwood Cavaliers 73-70 thanks to Azwa Mohamed’s three-point shot with less than four seconds remaining.
Storm head coach Steve Anderson was pleased with his boys’ performance at the tournament even though they didn’t get to play for a championship.
“We would obviously love to play in the final, but I think that winning your last game is always a good thing,” he said.
In the Quad A tournament, both Lord Tweedsmuir and Semiahmoo found themselves playing against each other on the final day for seventh place in what was a repeat of the Fraser Valley semifinal.
The Panthers won 100-88 in overtime.
This was the first time the Cloverdale school qualified for the provincials since 1953.
For more information and scores from the tournament, visit Bchighschoolbasketballchampionships.com.