Athletics Review: Grade 9 Boys Break Out the Brooms

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Grade 9 Boys Basketball
by Steve Bates

The Grade 9 boys basketball team completed a four-game sweep at the Island Tournament last weekend in Courtenay to earn the Island Championship. The first game saw the team gallop out to a sizable lead early versus the host team from G.P. Vanier, silencing a large crowd in their home gym. A strong inside presence from the power forwards, particularly player of the game Liam Catto (12 points) and his counterpart Jack Sherrod (7 points), allowed the team to control the game inside the paint at both ends of the floor en route to a 51-28 win.

In the second game, the boys faced a very physical battle from Maaqtusiis school. They pulled away in the second half, largely due to a spirited attacking game from tournament All-Star Alex Caton, whose momentum changing baskets (9 points in the 3rd quarter) turned the momentum late in the game. Michael Cernucan and Jake Wilmott contributed 8 points each in the 46-31 victory.

The SMUS team came up against a worthy opponent from Dover Bay in the semi-final game. Grant Nicholson (5 points in the first quarter) and Alex Caton (game–high 15 points) hit some key outside shots early to keep the game close in the face of a strong defensive front. Despite it being a defensive battle through the first three quarters, the offense rallied in the fourth to steadily extend the SMUS lead. Jake Wilmott stepped onto the court in the fourth and spear-headed the offense on consecutive possessions, including the decisive 3-pointer late in the contest. Kieran Large played a dominant role during the pivotal fourth quarter run, including knocking down four clutch free throws late. Michael Cernucan’s defensive efforts effectively shut down their opponent’s talented All-Star selection on the inside which was the focal point of some fine team defense.

In the final, the boys took to the floor against rival Mt Prevost. From the opening tip, led by player of the game Owen Sudul, the suffocating pressure defense propelled the team to several early buckets in transition and to a lead that the team never relinquished. SMUS was firing on all cylinders in their perimeter game, including a game-high 15 points from Jake Wilmott. In the fourth quarter, the Blue Jags went back to the inside as Gilberto Garcia (6 points) and Steven Piazza (4 points) led the scoring charge on creative entry passes from guards Michael Edwards, Angus Catto and David Lee. The boys hoisted the 2012 Island championship trophy after a convincing 55-32 victory.

Senior Girls Basketball
by Lindsay Brooke
The Senior girls basketball team had a busy week. They began with their last league game of the season against St. Margaret’s. A slow start on defense allowed the St. Margaret’s team to hang in the game. All the Jags got lots of playing time, as they cruised to victory in the 4th quarter, 78-43. Madison Hadfield led all scorers with 20 points. Allie White added 16 points and Rachel Sibbald finished with 11 points. Ethel Kiggundu finished with 4 points and, with four steals, played a solid defensive game as well.

The South Island Championship commenced on Thursday at St. Margaret’s. The top five Victoria teams were joined by three mid-island teams. In the tournament opener, SMUS faced Shawnigan Lake. An offensive explosion saw the Blue Jags up 25-12 after the first quarter. They didn’t look back. The game finished 67-28 in favour of SMUS. Abbey Piazza led all scorers with 14 points, Hadfield chipped in with 10 points and Sophia Ducharme added 9 points and twelve rebounds. This win set up a semi-final matchup with Brentwood.

Brentwood boasts a big team with some strong shooting guards. It was deadlocked at 13-all after one quarter. A strong defensive effort by SMUS in the second quarter made the difference. Up 23-17 heading into the second half, the Blue Jags played Brentwood even for the remainder of the game, finally winning 47-40. White led all scorers with 15 points and 11 rebounds, Piazza added 13 points and Ducharme chipped in 11 points.

The final game pitted the Blue Jags against local rival Lambrick Park, for their third showdown of the season. Missing Orla Glen and Sophia Ducharme, the Blue Jags were down numbers. It would not be the game the team had hoped for. SMUS got down 21-2 after the first quarter and the deficit was too much to overcome. They played the next three quarters hard and were much more competitive. The final score was 62-37 for Lambrick Park. White dominated the boards finishing with 20 (a career high) points. Ali Pollen played her best game of the season finishing with 9 points and some solid defensive minutes. Piazza added 13 points.

The team will compete in the Island Championships this weekend in Nanaimo at Wellington Secondary. The top two teams automatically qualify for provincials.

Senior Boys Basketball
by Ian Hyde-Lay

The Senior boys travelled to Shawnigan February 16-18 for the South Island tournament, with the top four finishers set to qualify for the Islands this weekend.

In the opening game, behind a school record-equaling seventeen three-pointers, SMUS won handily against a hardworking, but outmatched, Edward Milne squad.

This moved the Blue Jags into the semifinal game against the hosts, whose big and aggressive lineup, while lacking offensive polish, was more than good enough to present problems at the defensive end of the floor. SMUS scraped home by the narrowest of margins, unable to execute on attack and equally challenged to make shots or free throws. In the end, up 40-38, the team, in order to win, had to defend desperately to deny Shawnigan’s last possession.

The victory moved SMUS into the final versus Island rival, and BC AA #2-ranked, Brentwood. A slow start by the Jags staked the opposition to an early 9-2 lead, and both teams struggled to find any offensive flow in a half that finished 25-19.

Play after the intermission picked up, but with SMUS always one or two possessions behind. Joe Erlic’s 22 points led the Jags attack, while Liam MacLure did a superb defensive job on Brentwood star Jordan Charles. In the end, Brentwood’s superior ability to secure loose balls and corral offensive rebounds was the difference. Down 57-51 inside the final minute, SMUS hit a three-pointer and then a layup to close to within one. But the damage had been done, with SMUS falling by a single point.

In a strange way, even though between the BC AA#2 and #6 ranked teams, the contest was a bit flat, as both teams had already advanced to the Islands. This event will be held February 23-25 at SMUS, with much at stake, as the top three finishers advance to the BC AA Tournament March 7-10 in Kamloops.

SMUS opens its Island account February 23 vs Highland of Comox.

Junior Boys Basketball
by Ritch Primrose

The Junior boys basketball team competed in the City Championships last week. With three berths for the Island Championships on the line and no fewer than four very strong squads competing for it, it was sure to be a fairly tense affair.

Monday saw the boys in action against Reynolds, hosted by Lambrick Park. Reynolds played a pesky 2-3 zone the entire game, which kept the Jags at bay for much of the first half. As the game progressed Reynolds refused to go away, keeping the game closer than what was comfortable. It was Danny Wu’s prolific shooting that helped put the game away. The Blue Jags pulled away in the fourth quarter, and cruised to victory, 51-31. Wu finished with six three-pointers, and was named player of the game.

The boys took the floor Tuesday against Oak Bay, with a shot at avenging their league loss. The team got off to a strong start, and a balanced scoring attack kept the game close for the duration. Oak Bay’s inside play was difficult to handle, but the Jags were able to match baskets for the course of the game. Jack Janus made some key shots down the stretch to keep the team in it, and Michael Baart hit some key free throws late in the game.

The Jags led with just over three seconds left, and a successful inbound from the half court would have iced the game. What unfolded instead was a botched inbound play, followed by an Oak Bay steal and a buzzer-beating lay-up that sunk the Jags. Oak Bay fans rushed onto the court, while the Jags were simply stunned. It meant they would have to win two consecutive games in order to qualify for the islands.

SMUS hosted Mt. Doug on Wednesday—a team they had handled easily twice already in the season, but who promised to be stiffer competition in this do-or-die affair. What ensued was an offensive bonanza for both teams, but, as the game went on, concern mounted over the Blue Jags’ inability to guard. Matt Rud led the way on the scoring front, and the Jags snuck out a 62-59 win.

The season would come down to Thursday’s third place showdown between Lambrick Park and SMUS. The winning team would advance to the Island Championship and the losing team would go home. With two of the best teams on the Island playing for their proverbial lives, this had the making of a classic. Both squads were fired up from the opening tip.

With Lambrick Park keying on scoring machine Danny Wu, it was clear that other players would have to step up. The team played well throughout the course of the game, playing tough defence, but didn’t quite get enough shots to fall on the offensive end. In addition, Lambrick’s star players hurt the Jags, and the boys didn’t have an answer for them.

The Blue Jags made a late run, jumping out to a 41-37 lead in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, they were unable to expand on this lead, and a flurry of Lambrick shots fell, putting them up in the dying seconds. SMUS did not have a rally in them, and ended up on the losing end of a 48-44 decision, marking the end of the season for the boys.

It is important to note that, over the course of the year, the SMUS Junior boys basketball team competed with some of the best teams in the province. They played excellent games against Vancouver College, St. George’s, and a close league game against the eventual city champions, the Claremont Spartans. Season highlights included a big win against the ranked Walnut Grove Gators; a second place finish in the ISA Championships; and a huge league win against Lambrick Park, to ensure a third place league finish.

The boys should be proud of their accomplishments, and hopefully this taste of success will prove to be a catalyst for much hard work in the off season. The future is bright for SMUS basketball.

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