SURREY — It was an uphill fight all night. And in the end, they were one punch short.
The Panorama Ridge Thunder senior boys team fell 66-62 to the Semiahmoo Totems Saturday night (Jan. 14) at the 2017 Surrey RCMP Basketball Classic in a contest that initially looked like a runaway for the South Surrey team.
The Totems established dominance early at the packed Enver Creek Secondary court. They took a page from the three-point playbook of the Golden State Warriors and consistently fed the ball to open men beyond the arc, and primarily in the corners. The Thunder, down at one point by as many as 15 points, seemingly had no meaningful response until the second quarter.
And that’s when the chase began. By halftime, they’d whittled the lead to eight. Halfway through the fourth, the gap had narrowed to four.
The comeback, which in effect carried on for most of the game, was impressive. The Thunder made adjustments, often outworked the Totems under the basket, and gave themselves many opportunities to tie or take the lead as the game wore on.
But their shooting, for the most part, was cold – not frostbite cold, but cold enough that psychology, seemingly, ultimately played as much of a role as the Semiahmoo D.
On this night and on this court, the Totems would bend but not break, and that three- or four-point barrier simply could not be breached.
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PICTURED: Semiahmoo Totems celebrate at the final buzzer. Photo: Gord Goble
And so, a second consecutive runner-up showing – and a 61-48 ousting of defending champion Tamanawis one night prior – for the Thunder at the RCMP Classic. That alone makes a statement, though head coach Raman Bedi was understandably a bit melancholy in the immediate aftermath. He asked for a couple of minutes before speaking to the Now.
Bedi didn’t comment appreciably on that early storm of Semiahmoo threes, instead focusing on his own squad’s lack of quit, and the road ahead.
“We battled the entire game,” he said. “You’re going to miss some shots – it’s part of the game. It’s the effort that counts. The guys were in there, a lot of second-chance points.
“At least they were attempting. It happens – you’re going to hit some, you’re going to miss some. At this time of year (mid-season), you just want to see that your guys are giving 100 per cent.
“I think we’re the better shooting team, but we just came out stale today,” he continued. “We can’t wait to see them again later in the season. What matters for us at the end of the year (is), are we playing good basketball?”
SCROLL DOWN TO SEE MORE ACTION PHOTOS FROM TOURNEY FINAL
Bedi looked at the positives, including the Thunder’s appearance in the tourney final for a second year in a row.
“We’re making things happen as a school,” he said a week after the Panorama Ridge senior girls’ win at the all-Surrey Goodwill Basketball Classic.
“We gave them a good battle, we came from behind. I’m really proud of the boys.”
An upbeat Totems coach Edward Lefurgy spoke of his players, their preparation and a sizzling, customized exhibition calendar.
“We built a great schedule,” Lefurgy explained. “We’ve played nine American schools in three different states, we’ve been to the most competitive tournaments in B.C. Two weekends from now we’re set to go to Vancouver Island to play the best teams on the Island, and a week from that we go to Kelowna to play the best teams in Western Canada.”
He’s a firm believer that if you want to be good at something, you surround yourself with really good people.
“In this case we have to play really good teams. It’s been an expensive season, but we have a great parent group and we work hard to fundraise.”
Lefurgy acknowledged the role of the three-pointer in the title tilt.
“A very, very popular shot in basketball right now, and we shoot a lot of them. We practice. We get to the gym every morning at seven. These boys have shot and worked all spring and summer for moments like this.
“They (Panorama Ridge) are a great team,” he added. “A couple bounces didn’t go for them tonight, but they’re a very dangerous team that we’ll probably see down the line in the playoffs.
“But it feels really good. We won the first RCMP in ’92, and again in ’95, and it’s nice to be back here winning this.”
Tournament MVP Brian Wallack outscored all players on the night with a 26-point performance, while Semiahmoo teammate Vlad Mihaila added 19. Harsimran Bhullar scored 19 and Raphael Alcoreta poured in 15 for the Thunder.