Sardis no joke, Falcons wrack up wins over Mouat, Fox and now Pitt
Wednesday, December 5, 2012 – Submitted by Howard Tsumura, The Province
Sardis Falcons’ forward Hayden Lejeune scored 26 points Wednesday in the Falcons win over Pitt Meadows on day one of the Telus Classic. (Jason Payne, PNG)
PITT MEADOWS — Over the course of his CIS basketball playing career, Sardis Falcons head coach Kyle Graves remembers hearing the snickers and the one-liners.
“When I came out and they introduced me in the starting line-up, the announcer would say ‘At 6-foot-8, from Sardis, Kyle Graves’ and they would laugh and make fun of Sardis,” Graves explained Wednesday afternoon following his Chilliwack-based team’s dramatic 61-57 win over the host Pitt Meadows Marauders in the opening round of the Telus Basketball Classic (full results, bracket below). “So I told our boys that we don’t want people making fun of Sardis anymore.”
Yes, we’re only 10 days into the new high school basketball season, but in case you didn’t get the memo, Sardis is for real, and freshly minted at No. 9 in the latest edition of The Province’s Big 10 rankings. So with its Class of 2002 grad Graves leading the way, a school with virtually no hoops tradition to speak of, is the hands-down winner as the early feel-good story.
Consider: Since the opening of the season, the Falcons (4-0) have beaten perennial powers in defending B.C. champion Terry Fox of PoCo, eastern Valley power W.J. Mouat and, as of Wednesday, another top-flight provincial power in Pitt.
True, it’s very early in the season, and those three Triple A teams may not be headed for the greatest seasons ever.
But, as the Falcons’ 6-foot-7 Grade 11 forward Hayden Lejeune explained afterwards, with a distinct tone of pride in his voice: “This win today was one of our most important ones. We can’t just be looked off as lucky. We’re not a lucky team. We’re a skilled team. We have no reputation, I know, but this is the best team in Sardis school history. That might not be saying much, but I am very proud of this team.”
The Falcons, in fact, get a chance to face one of the provincial elite today, as they advance to face the No. 3-ranked White Rock Christian Warriors in a quarterfinal (3:15 p.m.) at Pitt. The Warriors beat Archbishop Carney of PoCo 86-48 in its opening-round game.
Lejeune, who has played on Basketball B.C.’s provincial teams the past two summers, just might be the best player you’ve never heard of. And it was hard not to see the pride he showed in his game.
Lejeune has great size and length, and, he can handle the ball, bring it up the floor against pressure, and knock down long-range jump shots. But on Wednesday he was also an inside force, collecting a bushel of offensive rebounds and second-chance points.
“Hayden is a real special talent, and I have told him he can be a top five player in B.C.,” said Graves, also an assistant coach with the Fraser Valley Cascades, the CIS team he formerly played for. “Right now he is more of a jump shooter than a post player, and once he learns to dominate down low, he can be that top-five type player in B.C.. But what I was most impressed with today, was that we showed we could win without Hayden. People say we can’t.”
Lejeune is indeed magnificently talented. He scored his team’s first 10 points, and had 20 at the half, but barely played in the third quarter when he picked up his fourth foul of the game and the Marauders built a 12-point lead. But he was on the floor to lead Sardis’ 17-0 fourth-quarter opening run, and when he fouled out with 3:20 remaining and his team leading 54-51, his teammates carried it home the rest of the way, including Devin Brandreth who knocked down a massive trey to make it 57-52 with 1:03 remaining.
“I certainly didn’t expect us to go 3-0 this week,” said Graves. “I figured there would be more of a learning curve. But I think we might have jumped a few steps towards our ultimate goal of making the provincials.”
OK, there, he said it. Sardis has never gone to the B.C. Triple A tournament. Ever. But why not set the bar high. Graves isn’t afraid to tell his kids to dream big.
“Maybe we’ll come up with a saying like ‘LEC or bust’” Graves says, eluding to the fact the tournament will be played at the Langley Events Centre in March. “There’s lot of good teams and we would have to pull off a huge upset to get there. But we’re just going to keep learning and give it a shot. I am not guaranteeing it, but I am saying we have a good shot.”
And that’s not too bad for the kids from Sardis, who are hearing fewer and fewer chuckles and one-liners these days.
TELUS BASKETBALL CLASSIC
Sardis 61 Pitt Meadows 57
Kitsilano 121 St. Thomas Aquinas 48
WRCA 86 Archbishop Carney 48
Vancouver College 99 Port Moody 54
Burnaby South 94 RC Palmer 89
Kelowna 91 Sir Charles Tupper 66
St. George’s 89 Elphinstone 49
Sir Winston Churchill 92 Panorama Ridge 61
1:45 p.m. — Kitsilano vs. Burnaby South
(at Sir Charles Tupper)
2:30 p.m. — St. George’s vs. Kelowna
(at Vancouver College)
2:30 p.m. — Vancouver College vs. Sir Winston Churchill
(At Pitt Meadows)
3:15 p.m. — Sardis vs. White Rock Christian Academy