SMUS Basketball Teams Make History

It was another magical two-week period for SMUS basketball. For the first time ever, in the same year, five teams reached their respective provincial championships.

The first of these teams, the Grade 8 boys, have been led in scoring by Jason Scully, Max Pollen and Graeme Hyde-Lay, although the success has been built around solid team play and defence. The group continues to prepare for its provincial championships March 10-12 at Pitt Meadows. Two 7-point defeats to #1 ranked Vancouver College in the past month and a 40-36 reverse to St. George’s at the recent ISA Tournament have underlined just how difficult the path will be to even make it into the provincial final four. Still, the team eagerly awaits the opportunity.

At the Grade-9 level, SMUS performed extremely well at the Islands, February 18-19 in Nanaimo. Behind tournament MVP Jordan Lane, All-Stars Danny Wu and Jeremy Chan and some tremendous defence spearheaded by Matt Rud, the team defeated Ballenas 38-28 in the opening round before hitting on all cylinders to subdue local rival Spencer 65-39 in the semifinals.

In the final, SMUS faced host Wellington in front of a noisy, partisan crowd. Down 15-6 early, the players had to regroup and did so impressively, fighting back to take the lead by halftime. While the Wildcats did everything possible to claw their way back into contention, it was not to be, with SMUS capturing the title by virtue of a 54-41 victory.

The team now advances as Island #1 to the provincial championships, to be held March 10-12 at Pinetree SS in Coquiltlam.

Likewise, the Grade 10 players won their Island Tournament, defeating in order Mark Isfeld, Dover Bay and Claremont en route to the title. Dawit Workie, Georgios Ikonomou and Mark Yorath were named to the All-Star team, with the latter joining a notable list of past winners in also being named MVP. Still, the hallmarks of the team remain depth, work ethic and unselfishness.

SMUS hosts the 2011 BC Junior Boys Tournament, with 32 games, involving 16 teams, taking place March 3-5. SMUS, seeded #4, opens play at noon on Day 1 against North Central champion Duchess Park. Supporters can follow all the action at www.smus.ca – with the links to Junior Boys Basketball.

The Senior girls hosted the AA Island Championships February 24-26, and breezed to an easy 73-44 win over Kwalikum in opening round action. Rachel Sibbald’s 14 points and strong defensive effort set the tone for the subsequent key semi-final matchup vs Woodlands, with BC qualification at stake. A balanced effort, with Allie White’s double-double (11 points, 12 rebounds) and Cliona Quail-Bradley’s stellar all round game leading the way, saw SMUS home in style by 68-42.

Unfortunately, the final vs Lambrick Park was marred by a nightmarish SMUS start, which saw the Lions jump out to an early double-digit lead. Ice-cold shooting seriously hampered any legitimate chance of a comeback, and while Sophia Ducharme did manage 17, it was never going to be enough in what ended as a 64-52 defeat.

Nonethelss, Annie Pike and Abbey Piazza were named tournament All-Stars, with the team, in all likelihood set to be a #8 or #9 seed, awaiting word on the draw for the BC AA Tournament March 9-12 in Kamloops.

The Senior boys Islands, held in Ladysmith, mirrored in many ways that of the Senior girls. A fine all round SMUS effort sent the team past Cedar 72-49 in the quarterfinals. Next up was Woodlands, featuring two excellent offensive talents in Mike Skoropad and Carl Stewart, and on a roll after an impressive fifteen point opening win vs Shawnigan.

SMUS responded in the best way possible, by playing perhaps its best game of the season with a great deal at stake. Liam MacLure and Derek Hyde-Lay, backed by their teammates, completely shut down the opposition scoring threats. With Hyde-Lay and Mitch Wiggins combining for eight first-half trifectas, SMUS ended the half up 39-19. More fine play after the break ensured that there was no way back for Woodlands, with Joe Erlic and Connor Eden prominent as the team advanced in impressive fashion.

With the pressure of BC qualification now lifted, the team continued its excellent play against Lambrick Park in the final. A 31-24 halftime lead was fully deserved, and based on solid defence and rebounding. Disappointingly, a poor start to the second half ceded momentum, and the Lions wasted no time seizing control, scoring in transition and pounding the glass to great effect. Down 46-40 after three quarters, SMUS, obviously fatigued, could find no way back despite the efforts of All-Stars Eden, Erlic and Wiggins. Late free throws put something of a gloss on a deserved 68-56 Lambrick Park win.

SMUS now enters the BC Championships, also in Kamloops March 9-12, as the #5 seed, and opens against the Okanagan’s Clarence Fulton.

Congratulations to all players and coaches on their successes to date.

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