By Howard Tsumura, The Province
One season after missing out on a trip to the Big Dance, the Tamanawis Wildcats are headed to the provincial Final Four.
Surrey’s Fraser Valley champs parlayed a gutsy defensive performance from Kyle Uppal and another offensive show from Miguel Tomley to defeat Vancouver’s Kitsilano Blues Demons 78-70 in the quarterfinal round of the 2016 Telus B.C. senior boys quad-A basketball championships Thursday (March 10) at the Langley Events Centre.
In today’s Final Four round (Friday), Tammy faces Abbotsford’s W.J. Mouat starting at 8:45 p.m. The winner of the game will advance to Saturday’s final.
Click here for the full 4A schedule.
On Thursday, when the Wildcats threw a junk defence at the Blue Demons designed to slow the team’s engine, point guard Luka Lizdek, Uppal was given the assignment of guarding one of the province’s top young playmakers.
And when Tammy needed its points down the stretch drive of the game, it was the prodiguous Grade 10 point guard Tomley who once again emerged, saving his best for last as part of game-high 27-point performance that also included 11 rebounds and six assists.
Last three weeks in the playoffs (Uppal) has been guarding the best guy on the other team, and I think he tired Luka out a bit,” said Wildcats head coach Mike McKay after Uppal also scored 11 points. “His legs seemed to be gone in the fourth quarter and that’s when we seemed to be able to pull away.”
The game was so tight either way that Tamanawis’ largest lead of eight points actually represented the final score.
The contest got off to an unusual start when Kitsilano’s rugged power forward Arian Tabrizi morphed into a go-to scorer.
The bearded, long-haired Tabrizi opened the game by hitting his first-five shots from the field, including two three-pointers as the Blue Demons rallied back from an earlier 8-2 deficit with a 9-0 run and an 11-8 lead.
At one stage of the quarter, Tabrizi and Tomley took turns knocking down four straight triples
The Blue Demons were forced to finish the game shorthanded after one of their key starters, forward Howard Wang, was helped off the court with a suspected leg injury in the second quarter.
Tamanawis had to go the final 3:20 of the game without the defensive presence of Uppal who fouled out of the proceedings.
They continued to execute well, and took a key 75-70 lead with 1:53 left when Fanta Lado drove and dished to a cutting Gurman Bhangu.
“We’re not the most disciplined operation but we can get it going,” smiled Tamanawis’ head coach Mike McKay, who last caoched the team at the 2014 provincials when the Wildcats made a similar run to the Final Four, only to lose to eventual champion Sir Winston Churchill.
Sagar Dulay had 18 points and Gary Sahota 11 points for Tamanawis. Tabrizi finished with 22 points for Kits, while Lizdek had 16 points, 11 rebounds and six assists.
Tamanawis arrived at Thursday’s quarterfinals with a 113-73 win over North Peace, while Kitsilano beat North Surrey 62-49.
Click here to read more of Howard Tsumura’s coverage.
Other news from Thursday’s action at Langley Events Centre:
KELOWNA 92 HOLY CROSS 64
Six Owls scored between 10 and 17 points as No. 1-ranked Kelowna continued to solidify the notion that the only team that will prevent them from winning the first upc-untry top-tiered title Saturday night is themselves.
“I still think we have better basketball to play,” said Owls head coach Harry Parmar after his team disposed of a very good Holy Cross Crusaders outfit from Surrey by a 92-64 count in the final contest of the evening.
“It seems like we are getting into ful trouble every game,” continued Parmar, whose Owls were 35-point winners over Terry Fox on the first day of the tourney. “We’ll get to tomorrow when tomorrow arrives.”
Kelowna was expecting an early adrenaline-filled push from the Crusaders, impressive the night before in their 78-66 win over St. George’s, but they came out and rolled to a 19-7 lead after the first quarter.
“We’re going to take their best shot and I thought if we didn’t give them an 8-0 run at the end of the second quarter it would have been done. So we had to find a way to win. And you want competitive games whe you are working hard.”
Nav Sandhu led the winners with 17 points, Grant Shephard added 16 with 12 rebounds and Parker Simson had 13 points and 11 assists for the winners.
Nigel Kuma-Mintah, Keegan Konn and Nic Best scored 18, 16 and 15 points respectively for the Crusaders.
W.J. MOUAT 67 PANORAMA RIDGE 65
Jass Singh’s pass to Jordyn Sekhon for the winning shot at the buzzer gave Abbotsford’s W.J. Mouat Hawks a 67-65 win over Surrey’s Panorama Ridge Thunder, carrying the Hawks into the second senior boys Final Four in school history and the first since 2011.
Sekhon finished the game with 29 points and Singh with 21. And in a basketball purist’s dream, forward Joel Klammer had 13 rebounds and no points on 0-for-6 shooting.
After getting a push Wednesday in an opening-round 90-83 win over Cowichan, the Hawks have won their two games by an average of 4.5 points and next test their mettle against Tamanawis, a Valley rival whom they have split two meetings with this season, in Friday’s Final Four.
Chuks Udevi led the Thunder with 29 points and 15 rebounds.
WALNUT GROVE 81 OAK BAY 60
Ask the old ball coach what the secret to victory was Thursday and George Bergen offer a simple explanation.
“I would say defensive tenacity in a nutshell,” the Walnut Grove Gators head coach said after this charges tightened the screws on defence so tight they were able to hold off one of the best-executing teams in the province en route to grabbing a spot in today’s Final Four.
The Gators took away virtually every driving lane they could in a landmark third quarter, rallying from 39-36 with a 21-3 run that gave them a 57-42 lead.
That, and dominant and aggressive play on the offensive end by centre Jake Cowley made the Gators look like a juggernaut.
Cowley had the game of his career, shooting 10-of-14 from the field and finishing with 25 points and 13 rebounds, dunking three times in a show of force that made him the king of the court.
“I thoghht we had an advatage inside with Jake and he did the job,” smiled Bergen. “But the play that epitomized what he was all about was when he dribbled the full length of the court to score. I don’t know how many university scouts there were watching but they should all be drooling right now.”
Walnut Grove will face Kelowna in the Final Four on Friday.
ST. THOMAS MORE 73 ABBOTSFORD 61
There was a moment early in the third quarter of Thursday’s quarterfinal clash between the favoured St. Thomas More Knights and the underdog Abbotsford Panthers when you wondered if there was anything or anyone capable of stopping or even slowing Chase Claypool.
Trailing the Knights 38-33 at the half, Abbotsford’s stealth 6-foot-5 guard Claypool started that second-half by going on his own personal 10-0 scoring run.
First it was back-to-back three-point buckets.
Next, he attacked right through the contact, drew a foul and then hit both free throws. Soon after, while off balance and attempting to finish in transition, he again played through contact, sinking yet another tough hoop.
Suddenly, the Panthers, who had opened the tourney Wednesday by beating Prince Rupert’s Charles Hays Rainmakers on a last-second Claypool jumper, were leading 43-38, and a potential berth in the Friday Final Four not such a crazy idea.
In the end however, one of the greatest two-sport athletes the B.C. high school world has ever seen, was unable to carry his team into the provincial semifinals.
The overall balance and the home-stretch execution of the Knights, 73-61 winners, proved too much, and thus the championship run of the Cinderella Panthers and their Notre Dame-bound football star Claypool came to an end.
“When people asked me before the tournament if I was happy with the draw, all I could tell them was that I was happy that we didn’t have to play Abbotsford in the first round,” said Knights’ head coach Aaron Mitchell. “It can be so awkward having to face a player like that in the first round. He’s the best overall athlete in the province.”
In the end, Claypool scored 39 points to go along with 15 rebounds, giving him a 34.5 points-14.5 rebound average over his first two tourney games as the road to Saturday’s finals continued.
As far as Mitchell was concerned, however, the game’s biggest play came when his senior guard Edward Ju stepped in front of Claypool with 3:09 remaining in the third quarter, drawing a charge that represented Claypool’s fourth foul of the game.
“The thing we didn’t like about our first half is that we let him attack the hoop so much,” said Mitchell. “When we took that charge in the second half, that was huge because it made him more of a jump shooter.”
Added the classy Claypool in defeat: “I am proud of getting us into the Final Eight and to have a chance at fifth. We came in here (seeded) 13th, so we just want to try and continue our underdog season.”
The Knights might not have a name as flashy as Claypool. But they did bring a deep rotation of guys whose roles meshed nicely in the second half.
Four player hit double-figures in scoring, led by guard Richard Galicia’s 21 points. Feenan added 16, Ju 15 and Cam Morris 13 points and 12 rebounds.
“When Edward can hit a shot and play good defence, and when we get it inside to Liam (Feenan) and he makes a bunny, that’s when we’re at our best,” said Mitchell. “But we’ve got our hands full tomorrow.”
That’s because the Knights, who won the very first B.C. triple-A title of the four-tiered era which began 2014, will square off Friday (3:30 p.m.) against Surrey’s powerhouse Southridge Storm in the first of two provincial semifinals.
The Storm, Fraser Valley champs, have beaten Quad A powers Sir Winston Churchill and Holy Cross already this season.
On Thursday, the Storm rolled over Courtenay’s Mark Isfled Ice 78-47, getting 24 points and 14 rebounds from star forward Hunter Hughes. The Knights and Storm have never met at any of the various age levels heading into Friday’s clash.
When Cam Morris takes to the floor at the Langley Event Centre’s arena bowl Friday (3:30 p.m.) with the rest of his St. Thomas More Knights’ teammates, he’ll be following in family footsteps.
Morris’ oldest brother Andrew got STM to the B.C. final but lost in 2012. Middle brother Andrew led the Knights to the title in 2014. And if the youngest sib can guide his team past Southridge and into Saturday’s title title, each of the three brothers will have played in the provincial final.
“That was an amazing experiene for me to soak in,” said the 6-foot-4, Grade 11 forward Morris of watching both of his brothers make their runs at the title. “It was that atmosphere that has prepared me for all of this.”
OK, let’s see, 2012, 2014… noticing a trend here?
STEVESTON-LONDON 78 ROBERT BATEMAN 70
The Steveston-London Sharks are swimming in some pretty hazardous waters, but they are still finding ways to circle their wagons.
Plagued by foul problems but shwing a battle-tested mettle, Richmond’s Lower Mainland champs survived a second straight close night, this time taking down the same Robert Bateman team that beat them before an 11-0 win streak carried them into Thursday’s quarterfinals.
“We jumped all over them early and had a big lead,” said Sharks’ head coach Mike Stoneburgh, whose team built a 15-point halftime lead then weathered the storm with big baskets down the stretch from post Fardaws Aimaq and guard Nigel Boyd. “Hats off to Bateman. They played tough and they came back. You’ve got to roll with punches and we did that today.”
The Timberwolves closed the gap to two points down the stretch and looked to have momentum on their side before Aimaq’s low-post moves led to a pair of scores, and Boyd went coast-to-coast for a telling layin.
“Fardaws had foul trouble, Taras (Johal) too,” said Stoneburgh. “But Nigel put the team on his back.”
Aimaq finished with 24 points and 14 rebounds, as both he and Johal (12 points) battled through four personal fouls. Boyd scored 19.
The Sharks led for 37 of the 40 minutes but it never felt safe in the second half.
Bateman got 22 points from Nate Friesen and 19 from Hardeep Sidhu.
RICK HANSEN 62 LORD BYNG 56
The Hurricanes won despite going just 2-of-18 from three-point range, rallying from a three-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter to win by six.
Joban Pandher led the winners, who now face Steveston-London in the semifinals, with 16 points. Manraj Benipal added 12.
Peter Chae’s game-high 27 points led Byng, who slowed the pace througout.
SOUTHRIDGE 78 MARK ISFELD 47
The Ice came in with a 36-1 record and led Fraser Valley champion Southridge 20-14 after the first quarter.
Then the roof fell in.
Surrey’s Storm limited the Courtenay squad to just 27 points the rest of the way, scoring 26 themselves in the second quarter en route to a date with St. Thomas More in the semifinals.
Hunter Hughes scored 24 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, and Dominic Clayton added 16 in the win.
Brett Woods with 14 and Jeppe Madsen with 12 led the Ice.
Seeds Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 5 make up a great Final Four Friday for the Double A tier.
Here’s my look at all four games Thursday and how the Elite 8 has become the Final Four.
The prospect of an all-Victoris clash in the Saturday final and a rematch of the 2014 title tilt remained after play Thursday, thanks to Lambrick Park’s Austin Somers.
With twin brother Calvin sideline, Austin stepped up and hit five threes in the fourth quarter, part of an eight-trey, 35-point effort as the Lions rallied from seven down entering the fourth quarter to edge the underdog, No. 10 seeded Abbotsford Christian Knights 88-84 in what may have been the day’s most drama-filled game.
Lambrick trailed 39-28 at the half, but in the end, Ty Schindel’s 22 points and 18 more from Trey Crust did the deed as the 2014 champs shot a dead-eye 61 per cent from the field and 72 per cent (11-of-15) from distance.
Justin Van Dorp led five Knights in double figures with 21 points. Aaron Postma added 17.
The Lions will face the Collingwood Cavaliers of West Vancouver in an 8:45 p.m. semifinal.
Collingwood, last-second losers in last season’s semifinals to Delview, got back to Finals Four thanks to a 66-52 win over the Shawnigan Lake Stags.
Jaden Narwal kept up his frenetic scoring pace with 20 points but the Cavs won with defence, holding Shawnigan to just nine points in the fourth quarter.
Litha Ncanisa led the Stags with 26 points and 12 rebounds.
On the other side of the draw, it’s defending champ St. Michaels University School looking to make its third straight finals appearance, against Fraser Valley champ and No. 1 seed GW Graham of Chilliwck.
SMUS turned a 28-28 halftime lead into a comfortable win with 58 per cent shooting from the field in the second half, locking down on Vancouver’s St. Patrick’s Celtics en route to a 67-48 win.
Ryan Hindson scored 26 points for the winners while Daniel David scored 21 in the loss for the Celts.
The Grizzlies got 30 points from Ryan Trottier and 20 from Gabe Mannes to beat North Vancouver’s St. Thomas Aquinas Fighting Saints 90-72.
GW Graham turned 21 STA turnovers into 40 points.
Michael Kelly led the Saints with 19 points. Matt Carrion added 15.
If you love an underdog, and who doesn’t, it’s time to start cheering for Dawson Creek’s Ron Pettigrew Christian.
The No. 7 seeds are playing in today’s Final Four after taking down the No. 2 seeds from Vancouver’s West Point Grey Academy.
Four players — Lance Gavino (21 points), Francis Obeta (18), Garrett Tower (17), Mej Fernandez (10) — scored all but two of the team’s points in a 68-56 win. The other deuce came from Anthony Collins.
Pettigrew faces No. 3 seed St. Ann’s, a 73-48 winner over the Osoyoos Rattlers.
Justin Melnychuk scored 32 points for the winners, who held the Rattlers to just 4-of-32 shooting from the field in the first half.
Benson Cheng scored 21 for Osoyoos.
On the other side of the draw, defending champion and No. 1 seed Kelowna Christian was a 71-46 winner over Bulkley Valley Christian.
Jackson Borne led the Knights with 16 points, while Cruz Anderson added 14. Ty Goodson led Bulkley Valley with 15 points.
It’s path to a repeat berth in Saturday’s final must go through hometown Credo Christian after the Langley school topped the Chargers of Duncan Christian 63-48.
Levi Levenhorst’s 17 points led the winners while teammate Dustin Flokstra added 14.
Adam Kapetyn led Duncan Christian with 16 points and 12 rebounds.