Frank Hurt Hornets pose for a photo last week after earning a berth at the 4A high school boys basketball provincials, which start today (Wednesday) at Langley Events Centre. (submitted photo)

HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL

‘Very excited’ Frank Hurt Hornets at basketball provincials for first time in 28 years

Four Surrey teams begin battle Wednesday at Langley Events Centre

Of the four Surrey teams at B.C. high school basketball’s biggest dance, likely none are more thrilled to be there than the boys of Frank Hurt Secondary.

At Langley Events Centre starting Wednesday (March 4), the Hornets are at the provincial championship tournament for the first time in 28 years.

In a 16-team battle for top senior boys squad among B.C.’s largest-population schools, Frank Hurt is joined by Tamanawis Wildcats, Fleetwood Park Dragons and Holy Cross Crusaders, who were the top four teams at the all-Surrey South Fraser regionals, played last week at Tamanawis.

“The mood is very excited,” said second-year Hornets head coach Duane Linnen. “It was everyone’s goal to get to provincials, right, and to actually accomplish it, especially for the nine seniors on the team, it’s very exciting for us.”

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A pep rally at the school on Tuesday (March 3) previews first-round provincials action Wednesday, when the 14th-seed Frank Hurt gets going against third-seed Kelowna starting at 3 p.m.

In other opening-round action involving Surrey teams Wednesday, #9 Tamanawis will battle #8 Oak Bay at 10 a.m., #13 Fleetwood Park plays #4 Vancouver College at 1:15 p.m., and #6 Holy Cross faces #11 Claremont at 4:30 p.m.

The full draw for the 2020 B.C. High School Boys 4A provincial tourney is posted to bchighschoolbasketballchampionships.com, along with 3A, 2A and 1A schedules.

• RELATED STORY: Semiahmoo girls win back-to-back championships, in record style.

This season, Frank Hurt made the jump from 3A to 4A basketball, given increased enrolment at the Newton-area school, and competed in the new-look South Fraser conference.

“Last year we got close to going to provincials, a couple of games away, and this year it’s been wonderful,” noted Linnen, who coached the Frank Hurt football team for a decade before first stepping onto the basketball court last season. “Of course we’ve had our ups and downs, right, but it’s a good feeling to get to this point, to get the boys to where they wanted to be.

“It wasn’t that much of a difference moving from Triple-A to Quad-A,” Linnen added, “it’s just that in South Fraser you’re having to playing Holy Cross, Tamanawis, Tweedsmuir, those schools – that makes you better.”

Key players for the Hornets include Rukunda “The Boss” Fota, a six-foot-five centre from Alberta, along with Shahbaaz Gill, Adrian Brown, Karman Bains and Marcellus Linnen, who is the head coach’s youngest son. The team’s full roster is posted to bcboysbasketball.com.

“We knew we could scrap our way to get to provincials, but we’ve worked hard to do it,” said Hornets assistant coach Bob Singh, whose son Kailen is among a handful of Grade 11 players on the squad. “The boys have worked hard and we’ve learned and changed things all the time to get better. It’s pretty special.”

• RELATED STORY, from 2019: Tweedsmuir Panthers win B.C. hoops title after second-half comeback.

The Hornets earned a ticket to provincials by knocking off the defending B.C. champs Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers, 68-56, in a play-in game at South Frasers last Wednesday night (Feb. 26). A day later, Frank Hurt lost to Fleetwood Park in the 3/4-place game, while Holy Cross took out Tamanawis in overtime to win the regional championship.

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In other provincial boys basketball action at Langley Events Centre this week, no Surrey-area school teams are involved in the 3A tournament, and just one (the #12-ranked École Gabrielle-Roy) is playing in the 1A tourney. The 2A tournament, meanwhile, involves #12 Surrey Christian in an opening-round fight with #5 Abbotsford Christian, and #3 Southridge battles #14 George Elliot.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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