Senior Boys Basketball
Saturday, December 10 was always going to be a big day on the Senior Boys calendar, as BC AAA #1 Terry Fox paid a visit to SMUS.
The Coquitlam-based Ravens featured a huge and imposing lineup, with a 6’10” 300-pound centre and two 6’7″ forwards (including 2011 provincial all star Ryan Slater). The meeting of the two teams for the opening jump ball was almost comical, such was the physical size disparity.
However, one antidote to size is speed, and SMUS immediately went to work making sure the mismatches in the game went both ways. Seniors David Lafleur, Derek Hyde-Lay, Joe Erlic and Liam MacLure chose the perfect occasion to play, as a quartet, their best-ever combined game for the school. Aided by Grade 11 point guards Mark Yorath and Dawit Workie, and swingman Monty Fraser-Brown, the group jumped out to a quick start and never looked back.
In front of an appreciative crowd, a MacLure 40′ runner at the first quarter buzzer gave SMUS a 21-13 lead and a sense that something magical was about to happen. This eight-point lead then turned into a 17-point margin by halftime (40-23).
Inevitably, Fox clawed its way back after the break, holding SMUS to a measly three points in the opening seven minutes of the third frame. Yet then, with the lead down to nine points, Erlic, on his way to a game-high 20 points, canned a huge bucket to restore momentum. Another trifecta later, this time by Workie, extended the margin back to fifteen and victory was in sight.
Indeed, SMUS, running its Princeton offence efficiently and sharing the ball, connected on multiple levels during the game. In addition to Erlic, MacLure (14), Workie (10), Lafleur (9) paced the offence. Three-point threat Hyde-Lay provided a different role this time, chipping in with seven assists. Yorath and Fraser-Brown handled the ball flawlessly and were part of a swarming SMUS defensive effort.
In the end, SMUS prevailed 69-50, in what would have been an unthinkable pre-game scoreline. Of course, it was only a December exhibition, and there is a long time to go before the business end of the season, but the fine performance by coach Reagan Daly and the entire squad provided a definite Christmas boost and no doubt sent shock waves around the province.
The team will look to continue its momentum December 15-17 in the Oak Bay tournament. Belmont will provide the round 1 opposition.
Junior Boys Basketball
The Junior boys began their busy week with a comfortable league victory versus GNS, but then suffered a first loss of the season to Semiahmoo in exhibition play. A lethargic start spotted the Totems a 17-4 lead, and although SMUS fought back to within three points on two different occasions, the damage had been done. Danny Wu (17 points) and Matt Rud (12 points) led the home scorers in the 66-52 loss.
The following day, the team bounced back to beat Spectrum, with Max Pollen and Jack Janus the leading scorers. This set up a final match with BC powerhouse Vancouver College, who had received a shock of their own the night before in losing to Claremont.
In this game, SMUS jumped to an 8-3 lead, showing good poise and execution against the vaunted Fighting Irish full court press. Slowly, the momentum turned, with Vancouver gaining control and heading to intermission up 31-26.
With Jordan Lane and Rud scoring inside, and point guard Graeme Hyde-Lay directing the offence, SMUS opened the second half efficiently, using a 12-3 run to knot the scores at 38. But that was as good as it got. With fatigue setting in, poor Blue Jags transition defence and missed loose balls allowed the Vancouver visitors to once again take over. Eight quick points was the result, with, in the end, the 64-51 final score an accurate reflection of proceedings.
SMUS has one more busy week before the Christmas break, travelling to Parkland December 13 for league play before opening December 15 against Pitt Meadows in the Oak Bay Tournament.
Grade 9 Boys Basketball
The Grade 9 boys travelled to Vancouver College December 9-10 to take part in the Emerald Tournament. Playing against three of the best teams in the province, even if SMUS did not manage a win, was of great benefit.
First up was West Vancouver. In a game ruled by rugged defences, SMUS struggled to get untracked offensively in a 36-28 loss. Jake Wilmott and Owen Sudul combined for 15 points, but it was the Highlanders’ superior rebounding that was the main difference.
Next came St. George’s, themselves smarting from a narrow opening loss to West Vancouver. This time, Jack Sherodd and Grant Nicholson led the SMUS scoring, but a disaster start to the fourth quarter allowed the Saints to extend a narrow lead to double figures in what finished a 52-35 win.
The final game saw a matchup vs Kitsilano, who featured a talented 6’4″ post and dangerous off guard. Michael Cernucan and Liam Catto took on the tough matchup inside, while Nicholson covering the perimeter. Wilmott (14 points) and Owen Sudul (12 points) led the SMUS scorers. Yet this was not enough, as the Demons closed out a tight contest by making their free throws down the stretch.
SMUS completes its pre Christmas schedule with a December 14 home game versus Mt. Prevost of Duncan.