A pair of impressive streaks - one that lasted nearly all season, and another that came and went just this week - came to an end Saturday night at the Langley Events Centre, as both the Elgin Park Orcas and Semiahmoo Thunderbirds’ senior boys came up short in their respective finals at the B.C. High School Basketball Championships.
Prior to their final-game loss, 56-52 to Vancouver’s St. Patrick Celtics, the Orcas had not lost a game to a 3A team all season long - the group’s only two losses came against 4A competition - while the Totems, playing in the 4A tournament as the No. 7 seed, were working on a modest two-game streak of defeating higher-ranked competition after defeating No. 2 Centennial and No. 3 Vancouver College in quarter-finals and semifinals, respectively.
In order to advance to Saturday’s championship game, Semiahmoo had to sneak past Vancouver College Friday night, winning 93-91 thanks to late free throws from Maddox Budiman with 1.1 seconds left in the game.
But they couldn’t make it three in a row, losing 72-57 to the No. 5-ranked Burnaby South Rebels in the final game of the tournament; due to delays in earlier games, the 4A final didn’t tip off until after 9 p.m. and didn’t wrap up until nearly 11 p.m.
Of the two championship games, Elgin Park’s loss was the most improbable; the South Surrey team led for the entire game - often by double-digit margins - but watched St. Patrick School rally late to catch up, eventually taking the lead with only two minutes left in the game.
The big difference, aside from a bounce here, a rebound there, according to Elgin coach Kirk Homenick, was when Elgin centre Lucas Roling fouled out in the fourth quarter after a trio of quick fouls - two of them for offensive charging.
“It was a tough finish. When we lost Lucas after those three fouls in a row, that really hurt us,” he said. “That was part of the momentum change. It was disappointing.”
Roling led the team in scoring with 16 points, while also pulling down 12 rebounds. Adam Olsen had 14 points and eight rebounds, while Kendall Homenick chipped in with 13 rebounds.
The Orcas came out of the gate strong, and led 23-8 after the first quarter, in part due to the fact they shot 9-for-17 (52.9 per cent) from the field, compared to just 16 per cent for St. Patrick. But the Vancouver-based St. Pats - who brought with them a raucous cheering section that numbered in the hundreds - clawed back slowly. They outscored Elgin 15-6 in the second quarter, and 22-12 in the decisive fourth.
The momentum was already starting to swing ever-so-slightly when Roling fouled out, and Elgin tried to pick up the pace in the waning moments, but to no avail.
“The kids played their asses off. If we could have had another foul or two to give in the last three minutes, maybe things would have been a little bit different, but we have no regrets,” Kirk Homenick said.
“No regrets. These kids left it all out there.”
The coach was emotional after the loss - not necessarily because of the score, but because he has coached the majority of the team since they were in elementary school, and Saturday was their final game together.
“I’ve been with them for 10 years - ever since we taught them to dribble a basketball for the first time,” he said.
“Whether we won or lost tonight, it was going to be one of the saddest days of my life because I’m saying goodbye to 10 great kids.”
Kendall Homenick, who will play volleyball at Western University in London, Ont. next year, said it will be tough to close this chapter of his athletic career, but despite the loss, was happy to have gone through it with such a tight-knit team.
“It feels like there was nothing more we could do. And it sucks that it couldn’t have ended the way we wanted it to, but it was fun while it lasted.”
Elgin Park’s Lucas Egitto was named the 3A tournament’s top defensive player, while Olsen was named a first-team all-star and Cyrus Harrison was named to the second team.
As opposed to the 3A tilt, in which Elgin led throughout, Semiahmoo was constantly playing behind against Burnaby South.
The game - which was a rematch of the 2018 B.C 4A championship final, also won by Burnaby - was a bit of a slow starter, with both teams shooting in the low 30 per cent range in the first quarter, and Burnaby led 15-11 after the first quarter and 33-25 at halftime.
In the third, they increased their lead by eight and the outcome of the contest was never really in doubt after that.
Burnaby South got 22 points, 13 rebounds and a block from their six-foot-eight centre, Karan Aujla, and both he and six-foot-five forward Armaan Hehar caused problems for Semiahmoo’s offence all game. After a semifinal win against Vancouver College Friday in which the Thunderbirds leaned on Grade 10 forward Cole Bekkering for 37 points, points in the paint were much harder to come by Saturday.
The team struggled to adjust once points in close were not readily available - something that head coach Ed Lefurgy took responsibility for after the final buzzer.
“I want to tip my hat to Burnaby South - they played fantastic. They made it really hard to play against them,” he said.
“But I didn’t gameplan enough. My guys played their butts off, they played so hard for me, but it was my fault. I didn’t do a couple tactical things right, so I’ll take the loss.”
Marcus Flores led Semiahmoo in scoring with 17, while guard Torian Lee had 14 and Bekkering had 13.
For the game, Semiahmoo struggled to shoot, finishing at just 30.9 per cent from the floor. They were also just 2-for-16 from three-point range, while the Rebels hit for nine threes, on 33 attempts.
Semiahmoo was the youngest team in the 4A tournament this year, with a number of starters - Lee, Bekkering and Andre Juco - only in Grade 10.
Lee and Bekkering were both named first team all-stars at the conclusion of the final.
In the 2A tournament, the Southridge Storm won its opening game, 65-41 over the Summerland Rockets, but dropped its quarter-final contest Thursday to Kamloops’ Westsyde Whundas, who ended up winning the 2A provincial title Saturday evening, with a dramatic 73-71 win over Lambrick Park.
Southridge’s Rohan Sall was named to the tournament’s second all-star team.