Junior and Senior Boys Basketball
Over the Christmas break, both the Junior and Senior boys basketball teams travelled to Honolulu for four games and some Hawaiian holiday magic. The trip, organized by Mr. Mat Geddes, went off without a hitch, with the two teams combining to win seven of the eight contests played.
First up was a pair of games vs Lanakili Baptist College, with the Juniors opening impressively. David Pollen’s first quarter sharp shooting staked SMUS to a 22-9 lead, with the team then playing very well indeed en route to a 60-30 win.
At the Senior level, the going proved much harder, with SMUS struggling to adapt to a different set of rules (FIBA is not used at the US high school or college level) and no shot clock. The latter proved especially aggravating as a small but clever opponent spread the floor and kept possession of the ball for over a minute on many possessions. It was not until late in the third quarter that a trio of three pointers, two by Derek Hyde-Lay and one by Murphy Liu, finally edged SMUS in front 29-25, with the team then hanging on to gain victory by 38-32!
Next up were games against Manilani HS. Again, the Juniors exploded out of the gate, this time led by Steve Whillans (21) and Trenton Schulz Franco (15). Smothering defence and numerous fast breaks, keyed by Mark Yorath’s superb passing, kept the scoreboard ticking over, with the team reaching the 80-point mark in the last minute of play.
The Senior game lacked the same flow or hot shooting, but finally a fourth quarter breakout, fueled by Conor Eden, Joe Erlic and David Lafleur, allowed SMUS to take the lead. Some late FTs put a gloss on a 41-26 victory.
Game 3 came against the tournament hosts Hanalani College. For the third straight time, the Juniors performed very efficiently and won easily. Montgomery Fraser-Brown connected on four tries and Graeme Hyde-Lay, on loan from the Grade 8 team as a replacement for the injured Dawit Workie, chipped in with seven points and five rebounds.
At Senior level, the hosts provided stiff opposition, again running a delay-type offence in order to limit possessions and keep the score down. All SMUS counters to try and inject some pace in the game proved fruitless. In the end, three late FTs by Liam Maclure were just enough in a 36-35 win, with a last second game winning shot by the Royals impressive point guard just spinning out.
Following a day off, the teams completed action with games against Kalaheo HS. Heavy overnight rain and the subsequent moisture left the court quite slippery, and the Juniors, for the first time, struggled. Fortunately, very good defence helped and order was restored after the break, with a fine third quarter ensuring another double digit vctory.
The Seniors jetted out to lead 11-0 and then 13-2, but were unable to retain this early momentum. Down 49-34 with four minutes to play, a SMUS reserve group, along with a flu ridden Mitch Wiggins, battled well to keep things interesting. Chris McEachren-Law, well supported by Miu, Johnny Huang, Lewis Liu and Mike Shaw, got back within five points, before eventually going down 51-44.
Off the court, among other things, the players and coaches enjoyed a memorable visit to Pearl Harbour, surfed at Waikiki, were pounded by the waves at Waimea Bay on the North Shore, and watched the top-ranked team in the USA, Oak Hill Academy from Virginia, utterly defeat a talented field in a local high school tournament.
Now back at home, both SMUS teams are already back in training. The Juniors will take their provincial #1 ranking to the prestigious Vancouver College Emerald Tournament January 7-8, while, on the same weekend, the Seniors open their own Invitational with pool games against Cowichan and Bishop O’Byrne (Calgary). Indeed, in addition to O’Byrne, the tournament features four other out of province teams, as well as a wildcard, Del Academy from Lagos, Nigeria.