Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers and Semiahmoo Totems in action during the 2019 Surrey RCMP Classic tournament championship game at Enver Creek Secondary last January. The Totems won 89-82 to earn their third straight title at the all-Surrey tourney. (File photo: Tom Zillich)

HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL

Classic memories: All-stars recall good times at Surrey RCMP tourney, which starts Sunday

All-Surrey boys basketball showcase involves close to 700 student-athletes in 87 games

Semiahmoo Totems will look for a fourth straight tournament title during the 29th edition of the Surrey RCMP Classic, which gets going Sunday (Jan. 12) and runs until the following Saturday (Jan. 18).

For 2020, 48 senior and junior teams will shoot for glory in the all-Surrey high school boys tourney, with a championship final played at Enver Creek Secondary’s gym (14505 84th Ave.).

Among Canada’s largest high school basketball tournaments, the Surrey RCMP Classic involves close to 700 teen athletes playing a total of 87 games during a busy week of action. Schedules and scores are posted to surreybasketballclassic.info.

(story continues below)

The tourney still holds fond memories for players including Kyle Grewal, a two-time Classic all-star during his days with the Enver Creek team in the mid-2000s. A dozen-plus years later, at age 31, Grewal has completed his law degree and now lives in Sydney, Australia.

“I remember Grade 9 and I got an all-star award at the RCMP, and that was pretty special because I hadn’t been so great at basketball prior, so it was huge for me, and I was on cloud nine,” he recalled in a phone call. “It finally paid off, all the work I’d put in. I was 14 that year.”

A few seasons later, Grewal earned a Classic scholarship that paved the way for his post-secondary education.

“It was one of the first scholarships I got, the Roger Pierlet scholarship, so it was special,” Grewal recalled. “That’s when I kind of realized that hey, I can have university paid for, at least part of it. My mom still has the scholarship award framed and it’s on the wall at home, and it’s nice to see when I come back home.”

• RELATED STORY: All-Surrey girls hoops tourney inspires former player to score a career as firefighter.

(story continues below)

homelessphoto

PICTURED: Riley Barker during his days with White Rock Christian Academy in the late-2000s. (Photo: David Zuskind)

Riley Barker, another Classic standout, is a firefighter in Vancouver now, and he sure brought the heat as a two-time MVP at the RCMP Classic from 2007 to 2010, when his White Rock Christian Academy team won the tournament three times.

“Those were some fun games,” Barker remembered. “For the team it was one we always looked forward to because going in, being a strong team in the Lower Mainland, we knew we’d have a good chance of winning it but we also knew there’d be those one or two Surrey teams that flew under the radar and would bring their best against you. There were always good, tough matchups.”

After high school, Barker went on to play NCAA ball at the University of Portland, and also ventured overseas.

“For the current players my advice is, it doesn’t matter who you’re up against, just go have as much fun as you can,” Barker said. “The biggest thing to recognize is that you’re in high school and this will be some of the best times you’ll have playing basketball – just playing against other guys your age and potentially meeting people at the tournament that you might reconnect with later in life, someone that could help with a future job or in other ways.

“Connections are made there, and that includes the police officers,” Barker added. “Go say hi to them, because it’s their tournament and they’re there to interact with the players.”

• RELATED STORY, from 2019: Surrey RCMP Classic brings together public, private schools.

Only Surrey schools are allowed to participate in the Classic, which has grown from eight teams to 48 over the years. As in previous years, 24 senior teams are involved, and this year 24 junior teams will play.

The inaugural tourney, held in 1992, was co-ordinated by Rick Inrig and RCMP officer Norm Massie. Inrig is still involved as a tournament co-director, along with Kevin De Boice, while Massie has since retired and now lives in Ontario.

From the start, the tournament was designed as a way for police and school students to enjoy positive interaction.

“The goal has been to encourage a healthy attitude towards high school sport and foster positive relations with the RCMP,” Inrig said. “Many of the tournament’s talented athletes have graduated and gone on to play university and college basketball in Canada and the United States.”

(story continues below)

homelessphoto

PICTURED: Semiahmoo grad Adam Paige now plays with the University of Alberta Golden Bears. (Photo: Don Voaklander)

Among them is Adam Paige, a six-foot-eight forward with the Golden Bears at the University of Alberta. He won a pair of Classic titles with Semiahmoo Totems in 2017 and 2018, but had graduated by the time the school team won its third consecutive championship last year, in a 89-82 triumph over Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers.

• READ MORE, from 2019: Three-peat for Semiahmoo at basketball’s Surrey RCMP Classic.

“Semiahmoo wasn’t always a big basketball school in the past, but now having the three (Classic) championships has been huge for the school,” Paige said.

He has fond memories of playing in the Surrey RCMP Classic.

“One of my early memories was in Grade 10 when we actually got bounced out in the quarter-finals, I think it was, and just the energy, it was amazing,” Paige said of playing in the Classic. “And then getting to the finals the next couple of years, it was where I wanted to get to. And just reading the program they have and seeing all the players from the past, all those names, something like that also motivated me. It’s just a great event.”

Paige’s advice for current players is to enjoy the experience of playing in the Classic.

“It’s just something you want to soak in as much as possible, even if you’re not playing a meaningful game,” Paige said. “It’s just cool to be playing the other schools from Surrey, ones you might not play during the year because it’s triple-A or quad-A – just being able to show your basketball skills and being around like-minded students. And if you can go to the championship game, try to get there because it’s super fun.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Young Muslims offer helping hand to isolated residents throughout Lower Mainland

Neighbourhood Helper campaign aims to get help to people who can’t leave their homes

White Rock’s promenade to close to the public

Public access to popular waterfront walkway closing April 10: city

Christopherson Steps, 1,001 Steps closed due to COVID-19

Access restricted to Crescent Beach over Easter weekend, City of Surrey announces

LETTER: With a long road of recovery ahead, Surrey must keep RCMP

To change for the sake of change shows weak leadership, inability to understand needs of community

Urban Safari Rescue Society starts online video presentations

Animal shelter struggling to stay afloat during pandemic

UPDATE: Canadians awake to extra COVID-19 emergency benefit money, feds clarify changes

The CRA and federal officials are working to clarify the confusion around payments

B.C. sorting medical equipment sales, donation offers for COVID-19

Supply hub has call out for masks, gowns, coronavirus swabs

B.C. records five more deaths due to COVID-19, 45 new cases

A total of 838 people have recovered from the virus

Major crimes investigating sudden death of North Okanagan child

The 8 year old was flown to Kelowna General Hospital and died hours later

BC institution has highest number of positive results for COVID-19

11 inmates in Mission test positive for coronavirus, more than any other federal prison in Canada

Easter Bunny added to B.C.’s list of essential workers

Premier John Horgan authorizes bunny to spread “eggs-ellent cheer” throughout province

Travellers returning to B.C. must have self-isolation plan or face quarantine: Horgan

Premier John Horgan says forms must be filled out by travellers

More than 400 animals have been adopted amid pandemic: B.C. SPCA

People are taking this time of social distancing to find a loyal companion through the animal welfare group

Most Read