Nobody has to convince Surinder Grewal how important the Surrey RCMP Classic is to Surrey high school basketball.
Currently the head coach of the Tamanawis Wildcats, Grewal played in the all-Surrey tournaments in 1997 and 1998, turning in a pair of Most Valuable Player (MVP) performances while leading the Queen Elizabeth Royals to back-to-back championships.
“I’ve been gloating to the team,” he laughed prior to Wednesday’s quarterfinal game against the Princess Margaret Lions. “I brought in my MVP trophies to show them, and tell them about how we became city champions two years running.
“It’s all about bragging rights. To win an all-Surrey championship is nice, because you have to beat some good teams to do it.”
The Wildcats are in the unusual position of being the favourites at this year’s RCMP Classic, as they are currently ranked seventh in provincial polls, the only Surrey school in the top 10.
“Seventh is good, it’s about where we should be ranked,” said Grewal, adding his squad shouldn’t be overlooking the opposition. “Enver Creek got an honourable mention (in the provincial poll) and hasn’t played a ranked team yet, but they could still be a strong team.
“As a ranked team, we’re a targeted team. Everyone wants to play well against us. We have to be ready every game.”
The Wildcats are coming off a victory at the 45th St. Thomas More Chancellor Tournament in Burnaby, defeating the host Knights 64-56 in the championship game. Manny Dulay netted 15 points and nine assists in the final, and won the tournament’s MVP and Best Offensive Player awards.
Ravjot Dhaliwal added a game-high 25 points, and was named a second-team all-star.
Satvir Sahota and Shive Viria also played well at the tournament, earning first-team all-star selections.
As good as Tamanawis has been in recent games, they’re doing it without Gagan Sahota, a first-team all-star at last season’s RCMP Classic. The 6’5” forward is sidelined with a broken toe.
“He’s our leading scorer, and we’ve been struggling without him,” said Grewal. “But we’ve still been pulling out some wins.”
Tamanawis, 95-49 winners over the Lions last night, will tip-off against the the Clayton Heights Night Riders in a semifinal game at Enver Creek Secondary at 5:45 tonight (Friday). The Fleetwood Park Dragons, will face the host Cougars in the other semifinal at 7:45 p.m. The Dragons eliminated the White Rock Christian Academy Warriors, a school that has claimed 10 of the past 12 RCMP Classic titles, 68-64 Wednesday afternoon.
The winners advance to tomorrow’s championship game, which tips off at 7:45 p.m. at Enver Creek.