BASKETBALL: Four Surrey school teams shoot for B.C. hoops title this week

Top boys teams from province's largest schools battle at Langley Events Centre

Panorama Ridge Thunder guard Harsimran Bhullar (right) pressures Tamanawis Wildcats’ scoring ace Miguel Tomley during the Surrey RCMP Basketball Classic final in January. Both Surrey-based teams are in this week’s B.C. High School Basketball Provincial Championships at Langley Events Centre.

Panorama Ridge Thunder guard Harsimran Bhullar (right) pressures Tamanawis Wildcats’ scoring ace Miguel Tomley during the Surrey RCMP Basketball Classic final in January. Both Surrey-based teams are in this week’s B.C. High School Basketball Provincial Championships at Langley Events Centre.

SURREY — How can you tell basketball is on the rebound at high schools here?

Take a look at the “Sweet 16” brackets of this week’s B.C. High School Basketball Provincial Championships, which includes four Surrey-based teams in the mix.

Tamanawis Wildcats, Holy Cross Crusaders, Panorama Ridge Thunder and North Surrey Spartans all have a shot at the provincial title in the boys’ Quad-A division, the domain of B.C.’s largest schools.

It wasn’t long ago Surrey-based teams barely registered on the provincial-hoops radar, other than the once-strong White Rock Christian Warriors of South Surrey.

It’s a different story today, with third-seed Tamanawis tops among Surrey teams going into the “provies” at Langley Events Centre’s arena bowl.

The senior boys’ action begins Wednesday morning (March 9) at 8:30 a.m., when the Wildcats tip-off against North Peace (#14 seed), and concludes Saturday evening (March 12).

“Basketball has really picked up in the last seven or eight years here in Surrey, with more kids playing the game than ever, and it’s resulted in some programs making a comeback, for sure,” Mike McKay, head coach of the Tamanawis squad, told the Now.

Back in 1981, the Spartans of North Surrey was the last Surrey-based senior boys’ team to win a Quad-A provincial championship. This year’s squad returns to the dance for the first time since 1999, as the #11 seed facing Kitsilano (#6) on opening day.

“We battled all year,” said Spartans coach Murray McDonald, who coached that 1999 team, left to coach football and then returned to the school’s basketball court in 2010.

“It’s a really good group of kids that put in a lot of time to get better, so I’m happy for them,” he said.

Tamanawis, led by Miguel Tomley, Gary Sahota and Sagar Dulay, scored a favourable draw at provincials by earning the Fraser Valley title on Feb. 26, in a wild 93-91 win over Walnut Grove Gators at Langley Events Centre.

At the same venue in January, the Wildcats took the Surrey RCMP Basketball Classic crown with a 97-69 victory over Panorama Ridge, the team’s 64th-Avenue-corridor competition.

“This squad, we’re really young,” said coach McKay. “You look at the rosters and we’re probably the youngest, or one of the youngest in the tournament. We actually go with two Grade 10s, four Grade 11s and only two Grade 12s, so we’re very young compared to other teams.

“It’s a talented team, the most talented we’ve had,” McKay added. “This was kind of always the setup year for the next two years. We’ve gained some experience, we’re really skilled, we shot the ball well and we managed to win the Fraser Valleys, and now we’ll see what happens at this tournament.”

Also in Quad-A, Panorama Ridge (#15) plays Sir Winston Churchill (#2) Wednesday at 5:15 p.m., followed by Holy Cross (#9) vs. St. Georges (#8) at 8:15 p.m.

In Triple-A action on Centre Court, Southridge Storm of South Surrey enter the tourney as top seed.

In the Double-A draw, Surrey-based Pacific Academy (#6) and North Delta’s Delview (#13) play separate opponents on the South Court.

Last year’s championship round saw more than 22,000 people attend the games at Langley Events Centre. This week, admission prices range from $2 to $12.

Look for scores and updated schedules at Bchighschoolbasketballchampionships.com.

• In the Triple-A senior girls tourney last Friday (March 4), Surrey’s Lord Tweedsmuir fell 72-52 in the semifinal to Richmond’s R.A. McMath, eventual losers to Langley’s Brookswood in the final.

Tweedsmuir’s Ali Norris was named a first-team all-star at the tournament, along with fellow Panthers Maryn Budiman (second team) and Shelvin Grewal (third team). Also honoured as a third-team all-star was Savannah Dhaliwal of Panorama Ridge.

tom.zillich@thenownewspaper.com