The North Delta Secondary Huskies took home bronze at the AAA BC Boys High School Basketball Championships with a 69-52 win over their Fraser Valley rivals, the Pitt Meadows Secondary Marauders.
Going into the tournament ranked fourth in province, the Huskies started their provincials run with a dominate 67-42 win over Courtenay, B.C.’s G.P. Vanier Towhees, before holding off Richmond’s R.A. McMath Wildcats 78-73 in the quarter finals.
Their bid for the team’s first provincial title win since 1990 came to an end with a 76-64 loss to Burnaby’s Byrne Creek Bulldogs in the semifinals. The Bulldogs were the number one-ranked AAA senior boys basketball team going into the tournament and had beaten the Huskies in their previous three meetings.
Going into today’s game for third place, the Marauders were a familiar foe for the Huskies, known for their big 6’8” centre Werner Giovanni Manu and 6’7” forward Colton Leon who dominate in the paint and underneath the net.
Huskies head coach Jesse Hundal said the team went into today’s game with much they same plan of attack as they did last week.
“Game plan was the similar to when we won the Fraser Valley Championship: handle their big man, who is extremely big and athletic, and push the pace. I know that we’re quicker than them so if we got out and transitioned quick it would be good for us,” Hundal said.
Grade 12 small forward Armaan Johal said today was about finishing strong after last night’s semifinal loss.
“We had to win this game and we put in all of our efforts because we wanted to walk out of that court with our heads held high, because this is my last game. All our seniors, we just balled out and we played until our last breath.”
It was defence over offence in first quarter, with both teams shooting well under 40 per cent, while the Huskies had their sights set on trying to contain Manu and Leon.
This aggressive defence payed off as they had a 16 – 11 lead at the end of the quarter.
North Delta’s speed and athleticism out of the offensive zone made the large Pitt Meadows players pay in the second quarter, as the Huskies tallied another 16 points while allowing only eight points for the Marauders, leaving the Huskies up 32-19 at halftime.
Throughout the game, the Marauders’ offence relied mainly on Manu and Leon, with the pair putting up a combined 40 points while the remainder of the team had only eight. Seeing this, the Huskies quickened up the game, putting up 24 points in the third to Pitt Meadows’ 12.
With a wild fourth quarter push, the Marauders managed to out-score the Huskies 21-13 in the fourth, but it was too little too late and the Huskies managed to hold on for the win with a final score of 69-52.
Marauders’ head coach Carson Power said despite the loss he’s proud of how the team played.
“[It’s a] tough loss. You always want to finish the year with a win. That didn’t happen today, but that said I’m really proud of our boys. We’re an unranked team, we battled hard all year, got better and better, so we’re happy. [We] lost two tough ones now to North Delta, in the Fraser Valley final and here in the third/fourth place game. They’re a great team, great shooters, well coached.”
Huskies shooting guard Suraj Gahir put up 18 points in today game, making him the Huskies’ tournament point leader with a total of 56.
Hundal said not only did Gahir have a good tournament, but the rest of the team’s starters did as well.
“I thought our Grade 12 Armaan Johal had a great tournament — he did what we asked him to do. And obviously our Grade 11 players, [Vikram] Hayer, [Jagraj] Johal, Arun Atker was outstanding, and our number nine, Suraj Gahir, who I would say, in my opinion, had the best tournament of any AAA player. He did everything from rebounding to assists, to steals, to blocks, to points. They all had a good showing,” Hundal said.
The 2018 BC Boys Basketball Championships marks the first time in over a decade the Huskies seniors boys team has made provincials, while the last time they won the championships was 1990.
With seven of 14 players potentially returning next season, Hundal said North Delta is poised to build on this year’s success.
“Next year we have our core group of Grade 11s coming back … and then we’ll bring in hopefully some Grade 10s and we’ll be back,” Hundal said. “We’re going to refocus, re-energize and hopefully contend for that provincial title next year.”
As for the Marauders, Power said he feels good about the crop of players set to join the team next season.
“Two of our three bigs are coming back, not [Giovanni Manu], but Cole [Colton Leon] and Ben [Benjamin Pollard] are coming back, and then we also have a very strong junior group coming up with excellent guard play, so they’ll be good,” he said. “And North Delta, I see, is very young, so they’ll be back strong again next year.”
All of which makes a rematch between the two teams something to look forward to.
“ Yes, absolutely,” Power laughed. “Third time’s the charm, maybe.”