Athletics Review: February 22, 2009

Two Island Titles for SMUS Basketball
The Senior girls basketball team headed into the Island Championships after finishing first in the Victoria AA league. In their opening round game, the Blue Jags faced an unpolished and unpredictable Woodlands squad. The Blue Jags, missing Ceilidh MacLeod and Annie Pike to the flu, relied on the steady scoring of Sydney Stockus, who took 22 points, followed by Lauren Kipp with 13 points and Shelby Boehm with 9 points and 14 boards. SMUS won handily 55-39.

In the semi-final game, SMUS faced an aggressive Gulf Islands team. Their size and grit on the boards were cause for concern heading into the Friday afternoon game. However, SMUS was able to cause some problems of their own with heavy man-to-man pressure and an all-around strong team defensive performance. Up by 6 points at half-time, SMUS rallied in the second half scoring 17 points in the third quarter with timely baskets by Emily “Shackles” Mulroney and Katherine “Kapono” Kohler. Ciara “Shooter” Glen, sealed the SMUS victory in the last seconds of the game with two clutch free-throws. SMUS went on to win 45-40, securing a berth in the BC Championships. Sydney Stockus led all scorers with 19 points, 7 rebounds, while Grade 10 standout Annie Pike added 7 points and 5 boards and Ciara Glen chipped in with 6 points and 7 boards.

Hungry for their first AA Island Championship since 1986, the Blue Jags hoped to avenge an early season loss to Carihi in the final game. SMUS struggled all game around the basket, but fortunately, the team was firing on all-cylinders defensively. SMUS defeated Carihi 55-40, capturing 1st place at the Island Championships. Sydney Stockus was the game high scorer, finishing with 18 points. Shelby Boehm added 14 points, 12 rebounds and 9 steals and Lauren Kipp netted 10 points.

For the fifth consecutive game, SMUS held their opponents to under 40 points. Sydney Stockus was named the tournament’s MVP, averaging 20 points per game and displaying a fine outside shooting touch as well as a will to score. Shelby Boehm was named a tournament all-star and was a monster on the boards, proving that she can use her quickness and athleticism to guard bigger opponents. Lauren Kipp was also named to the tournament all-star team. She took care of the basketball, connected with her teammates on several backdoor passes and sliced her way to the basket.

Grade 9 Boys Basketball
With players Joe Erlic and Liam Maclure away from the game, the week began with a loss as the team struggled mightily in a 62-55 away defeat to PCS. After a rough opening half, the team recovered to score 47 points in the second half, but the damage had been done. Guard Derek Hyde-Lay made nine three-pointers in the game, a continuation of his hot shooting last weekend.

The team was in better form two days later when they defeated Victor Brodeur 54-42 and secured the league title. Good free throw shooting punished some of the visitors’ overly robust play, particularly from Aaron Samson, Len Luo and Liam MacLure.

The Island Tournament proved to be a hotly contested affair. SMUS, with Erlic back from illness, managed a 46-31 opening round victory over Nanaimo, which set up a key semi-final against a much-improved Southgate team from Campbell River. In a terrific game, four crucial trifectas from Hyde-Lay, 23 points and 12 rebounds from MacLure, and some vital late contributions from Alex Davies and Lewis Liu, were just enough to advance 58-54. The other semi-final was equally exciting as Oak Bay registered a tip-in at the final buzzer to defeat Dover Bay of Nanaimo.

So it was onto the final, with the winner guaranteed a berth in the provincial tournament. A crisp start, based on excellent defence and solid ball-handling resulted in an early 10-2 SMUS lead, which was extended to 25-16 at the break. However, with MacLure saddled with foul trouble, Erlic feeling the effects of a week long bout of the flu and Hyde-Lay struggling a bit from beyond the arc, the lead slowly dwindled from nine to six to three, until Oak Bay tied the score with only thirty seconds left to play.

This set the stage for some real dramatics. On the penultimate SMUS possession, with 11 seconds remaining, MacLure drew a foul and calmly hit both free throws. However, the opponents tied the game again with 4.4 seconds left. In what capped an exciting overall tournament, SMUS completed a successful half-court inbounds play, with MacLure hitting the game winning shot just as time expired.

Along with the usual starting group, guard Johnny Sipos and posts Roger Luo and Johnny Huang all chipped in at some key moments. The team now moves on to play in a local playoff event and prepare for the provincials.

Senior Boys Basketball
The Senior boys basketball team travelled to Ladysmith this weekend to compete in the Island championships, from which three teams would earn a trip to the provincial tournament. Entering as the south #4 seed, SMUS had to face off against the host school, AA powerhouse the Ladysmith 49’ers. The boys were in tough from the start, and despite their best efforts fell short in this game.

In the second round game, the boys went to battle against Wellington, who they had beaten earlier in the year by a wide margin. Tim Wu and Jamie Yorath came out gunning in this one, and the team jumped out to an early lead that they would not relinquish. The boys won by 20 and kept their playoff hopes alive.

Game three was do-or-die and the boys had another rematch, this time against rival Cedar from Nanaimo. Short on size, the boys knew they had to bring their A-game to compete in this one. While the game remained close throughout, in the end the boys just didn’t have enough in the tank, and had to settle for a 5th place finish.

A special thanks to the contributions of the graduating players Francis Quinlan, Tom Bridger, Tim Wu and Bryan Sun for four years of effort on the hardwood at SMUS.

Badminton
The Senior badminton team went to Richmond to participate in a new event: the Richmond Exhibition Series. The team got some great experience as they were matched up against two of the top schools in the province.

In the first game, the team was playing Burnaby’s Moscrop team, the #10 seed in BC. The competition was going to be fierce, as the Moscrop team included Canada’s #1 U16 player. The Jags went in to the contest feeling a little bit intimidated. However, as the game unfolded, the SMUS team competed with determination and vigour and was able to win by a score of 7-4. Both Kevin Ma and Mike Zhou had the best game of their lives, beating the Moscrop “A” Doubles in a hotly contested affair. In addition, Ross Prager and Candice Ip showed their supremacy in the mixed doubles.

Next, SMUS took on Richmond High, a team of great players. Tired from the Moscrop game, our team was at a disadvantage. However, our boys’ doubles had winning on their mind. After Robbie Thomas and Michael Ip narrowly beat the Richmond “B” Doubles, it was again Kevin Ma and Mike Zhou who came through in the clutch and beat the Richmond “A” Doubles. One of their games went to a rarely-seen score of 30-29. With two early wins, the depth of the team came through as SMUS won by a score of 6-5. This win was only the second time in the last decade that a SMUS team beat a school from the Richmond area.

These two wins are absolutely huge as the team gets set to play at the provincials in two weeks. The team is cautiously optimistic about their chances and seems to be peaking at just the right time. With any luck, the team will ride this recent wave of momentum right through the provincials.

Grade 9 Girls Basketball
On Tuesday, the Grade 9 girls basketball team played their final regular season game at PCS. After a slow start, the girls picked things up defensively by controlling the key and securing defensive rebounds. At the half, they found themselves down by only two points. The second half saw a solid effort on both ends of the floor, keeping the game closely contested at 27-27 through the third frame.

During the game, there were nine lead changes and PCS attempted to apply some pressure late, but good ball movement and spread out offensive production resulted in a SMUS victory, 38-34. Isailah Johnson-Ferguson hit three clutch shots in a row to take the lead and contributed 13 points. Sara Taylor’s play in the low post and strong presence on the offensive boards resulted in 12 points. Overall, the girls played extremely well and are in a great position heading into playoffs.

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