Rebels win boys thriller, Bobcats cruise in girls final
Saturday, December 7, 2013 – Submitted by Howard Tsumura – The Province
Hey basketball fans, a fun evening at the 14th and final Telus Basketball Classic. Here’s what happened in the highlighted senior boys and girls finals:
BURNABY SOUTH 77 SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL 75
VANCOUVER — The Fraser Valley may be holding the top four spots and eight of the top 10 in The Province’s Big 10 Triple A senior boys basketball rankings, but the two interlopers aren’t a part of that mix by accident.
And by the way, when the No. 5-ranked Burnaby South Rebels, and the No. 8 Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs of Vancouver got together Saturday night in the final of the 14th and final Telus Basketball Classic at War Memorial Gymnasium, they did the event proud by turning in a nail-biter, complete with everything that makes high school basketball such a powerful and exciting product.
With passionate supporters from both sides taking good-natured swipes at each other from across the expanse of the War parquet, the Rebels toughed out a 77-75 win over the Bulldogs in the kind of game that gives the Lower Mainland two teams worthy of challenging its Fraser Valley brethren for the B.C. title this March.
“I don’t know if we played with a lot of poise, but we showed a lot of heart and we never gave up,” said Burnaby South head coach David Smith, whose team improved to 4-0 in the young campaign. “We played with grit.”
Rebels’ seniors Djordje Obradovic with 16 points, Martin Bogajev with 12 and Taylor Smith with nine led the winners, but the story was just as much about the huge class of non-seniors on the Burnaby South team, led by Grade 11 guard Jermaine Haley (13 points) who stepped up big in crunch time.
EJ Mabone came off the bench to hit a huge shot, and both Tyus Batiste and Nick Trnninic were also huge for the winners.
But the same could be said for Churchill (3-1), whose senior leader Mindy Minhas (16 points) got able support from a huge cast of underclassmen, especially Grade 10 guard Izaiah Ugoalah who scored a game-high 22 points.
“The sky is the limit for him, a Grade 10 kid scoring 22 in a game like this,” said Churchill coach Ric Lopez. “Tonight was just a great game between two teams just going it hard and competing with class.”
South standout Haley picked up his fourth foul of the game with 1:15 left in the third quarter and was forced to sit with his team trailing 52-47. He returned with 4:27 left and his team leading 66-65, thanks to the play of Mabone and Batiste.
But in a game of rising stars vs. rising stars, Ugoalah’s play made the game a drama. His coast-to-coast layin brought the Bulldogs’ crowd to its feet and pulled his team to within 66-65. His runner with 3:30 remaining kept it close at 68-67.
The dagger, however, was delivered with 59 seconds remaining when another Rebels’ underclassmen, Nick Trnninic, dropped a triple that made it a two possession game at 73-67.
Saturday’s final brought incredible support for both schools to War Gymnasium, and the two teams each took turns in the spotlight over the opening half.
The Bulldogs were having trouble maintaining their energy against the Rebels as the first quarter drew to an end, but they managed to rally with an 11-0 run that turned a 25-15 deficit into a 26-25 lead. Forward Reegan O’Gorman’s blue-collar work under the basket, and Ugoalah’s two treys powered the run.
But then the Rebels got down to doing what they do best.
On back-to-back trips down the floor, the 6-foot-6 Haley wowed the crowd with his ability to finish in the transition game at hyper-tempo. On the second, which gave his team a 33-29 with just over three minutes remaining in the first half, Haley used every inch of his imposing wingspan to finish with a fully extended layup hide and off the window.
In the boys third-place game, Jonathan Kongbo scored a game-high 31 points, leading Surrey’s Holy Cross Crusaders to an 82-68 win over North Vancouver’s Handsworth Royals.
Brookswood Bobcats’ Grade 10 guard Aislinn Konig helped lead her No. 1-ranked team from Langley to a win over PoCo-Riverside in the Telus Classic senior girls final Saturday at War. (Gerry Kahrmann, PNG)
BROOKSWOOD 83 RIVERSIDE 47
VANCOUVER — Remember hearing how good the No. 1-ranked boys basketball team from Nevada’s Findlay Prep was last week as it rolled through town and rolled the score up on a pair of B.C. high school all-star teams?
Well, that’s how good B.C.’s No. 1-ranked senior girls Triple A basketball team was in its world this past week, en route to winning the Telus Basketball Classic at UBC’s War Memorial Gymnasium.
Langley’s Brookswood Bobcats were never challenged in its four games, and that included an 83-47 win over the No. 6-ranked Riverside Rapids of Port Coquitlam in Saturday’s showcase final.
Brookswood had arrived at the final by beating Burnaby Mountain 111-40, No. 5 Triple A MEI of Abbotsford 99-61 and, in Friday’s semifinals, No. 1-ranked Double A St. Thomas Aquinas of North Vancouver 79-47.
“That was Lethal Weapon 3 we had starring tonight,” said happy Brookswood head coach Neil Brown, referring to shooting guard Jessie Brown (21 points), forward Tayla Jackson (16) and point guard Aislinn Konig (15).
Brookswood opened the game on a 24-4 run and led 47-15 at halftime. And if there is any worry about complacency, Bobcats’ assistant coach Chris Veale isn’t worried.
“We don’t look at the scoreboard as much as we look at how efficiently we’re playing,” Veale said. “And the scoreboard doesn’t always tell the true story. We just want to play great on the defensive end and the offence will take care of itself.”
Forward Natasha Tadic added 12 points for the winners. Jess Castillo led Riverside with 11 points while Vanessa Gee added 10.
“They have three girls that go to Canada Basketball camps,” said Rapids head coach Paul Langford. “You have to play unbelievably well just to be in the game with them.”
Brookswood is now 4-0 on the season, but it did get a real fight in its season opener, a game played last Sunday when it beat the No. 3-ranked Oak Bay Breakers of Victoria 63-60.
In the girls third-place game, the battle of North Vancouver saw the St. Thomas Aquinas Fighting Saints go to overtime and edge the Windsor Dukes 59-58.