The Tamanawis Wildcats put a troubling part of their past firmly behind them Monday night.
The Newton hoops powerhouse locked up a berth in the class AAAA senior boys’ provincial tourney by hammering Terry Fox 77-49 in quarter-final action of the Fraser Valley championships.
Last year the ‘Cats were ranked in the top five teams in the province with an eye on making some noise in the provincials. Instead, Tamanawis was upended in the quarter-finals of the Valleys and then dropped a do-or-die game in their next outing and missed the bus to the sport’s big dance.
The top-ranked Wildcats were determined that history would not repeat itself this year and they delivered on that promise with two impressive wins to open the Valley tourney.
“Our guys were all pretty excited,” said Wildcats coach Mike McKay. “They knew they were going to provincials and it made up for all the things that happened last year. The guys were happy, but we have another big game Friday so our work is not done. Yeah, making the provincials is one goal, but it’s not our main goal. It’s just a step along the way. We still want to win this weekend, but now we can start preparing for the provincials.”
The Wildcats opened Fraser Valley play with a convincing 97-53 win over the Lord Tweedsmuir Panther in the round
of 16 on Friday night.
Tamanawis followed that up with an equally impressive showing against traditional Valley power Terry Fox in Newton Monday.
Sukjot Bains led the Wildcats with 30 points, while Sukhman Sandhu had a monster game with 17 points, nine rebounds and nine blocks. Parm Bains helped out with a dozen points.
“We made up for what happened last year,” McKay said.
“This is the best we’ve played all year. We had a couple of days to scout them and we practised what they run over and over and over. When the game started, they couldn’t get anything going against us. All of our guys were so ready to play that game.
“Terry Fox worked hard and they’re good defensively, but our guys were hungry. We knew what they were running and we did a good job of shutting them down. Fox had 21 points at the half and 35 with about five minutes to go when we started to roll our bench.
“They ended up with 49, but we were never threatened.”
Meanwhile across town in Fleetwood, the Holy Cross Crusaders made some travel plans of their own.
The third-ranked Crusaders made the jump from AA to 4A this season and on Monday night they proved the move was the correct one when they beat Pitt Meadows 79-68 in quarter-final round play of the Valleys to secure a provincial berth.
As a 2A team last season, the Crusaders faced a long road trip to Kamloops for the provincials. This year all they will need is bus fare to travel to the Langley Events Centre when action tips off next week.
“No road trip to Kamloops this year,” said Crusaders coach Matt LeChasseur. “We just have to go 15 minutes down the road. Our guys can sleep in their own beds, eat their
mom’s cooking – it’s much better than a long road trip.”
Holy Cross kicked off the Valley tourney with a hard-fought 85-79 win over W.J. Mouat on Friday before facing a cagey Pitt team Monday.
Holy Cross led Pitt 51-30 at the break, but the Marauders stormed back to cut the lead to single digits before the Crusaders put the game away in the final quarter.
Juaquin Bennett-Boire led the Crusaders with 30 points, while Henry Maduabueke and Taylor Browne chipped in with 17 and 12 points, respectively.
“This is really kind of just the first step and that’s the way the kids are looking at it,” LeChasseur said. “They didn’t get too excited, it was almost like they were matter of fact about it. Beating Pitt took us one step closer to our goal, but our kids have bigger goals than just qualifying for provincials.
“It was interesting to see how mature they were about it. They’re almost business-like in their approach as they tick off the list of things they have to do to accomplish their goals.”
Next up for both Holy Cross and Tamanawis is a clash in the Fraser Valley semifinals Friday night (8:30 p.m.) at the Langley Events Centre.
The winner of that game will advance to Saturday’s championship final against either Walnut Grove or Gleneagle.