Athletics Review: Defense Key to Basketball Wins

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Photos by Ian Robertson


February 29, 2012

Senior Boys Basketball
by Ian Hyde-Lay

After months of preparation, complete with the many highs and lows that accompany any season, SMUS hosted the Vancouver Island AA Tournament on February 23-25. Eight teams competed for the three berths on offer to the provincials.

SMUS opened in fine style, defeating Highland of Comox 76-44 in round one. A packed gym enjoyed a first-half offensive explosion, with Derek Hyde-Lay and Dawit Workie combining for five trifectas en route to a Blue Jags 43-24 halftime lead.

The second stanza allowed for plenty of floor time for all players. Joe Erlic proved a handful for the opposition defence, finishing with a game-high 19 points. In typical fashion, Liam MacLure sacrificed his own offence to blanket Highland star Noah Lewis.

In the semifinal round, some costly fouls and a poor three-point shooting performance (6/31) hampered SMUS in its game versus Ladysmith. With BC qualification at stake, the hosts wasted a 29-12 second quarter lead, as the 49ers, on the back of 16 consecutive free throw attempts, scrambled back from what looked a lost cause. Indeed, a David Geary bomb capped a 21-3 run as Ladysmith took a one point advantage into the middle of the third quarter.

Happily, with Erlic struggling from the field, key hoops by Hyde-Lay, Monty Fraser-Brown and David Lafleur helped restore order. SMUS regained control of what had become an absorbing contest to run out again to an 18-point lead. In the end, the final score of 60-48 accurately reflected proceedings, with MacLure, yet again, spearheading a fine defensive effort by not allowing Ladysmith star forward Tanner Gresmak even a single field goal.

With a BC berth confirmed, SMUS then turned its attention on Brentwood, who, not without some nervy moments, had finally dispatched Lambrick Park in its own semi-final.

This was the game SMUS had waited for all season. The 57-56 loss to the same opponents at the South Island tournament still rankled, while Island bragging rights and provincial seeding were also at stake.

In front of another loud and boisterous crowd, Brentwood, the provincial AA #2 ranked team, jumped out in impressive style, leading 7-1, 10-4 and 11-6 in the early going. But after that, it was all SMUS. Erlic was in dominant form, finishing with 18 points on an array of drives and jumpers. The team finally found its scoring touch, hitting 10 three-point shots, and riding out some second quarter foul trouble to MacLure and Lafleur. Fortunately, some vital hoops and hustle from Georgios Ikonomou and a steady, composed floor game by point guard Mark Yorath kept SMUS in front 28-24 at half.

The second half was one way traffic. Only some missed shots kept the game from being a blow out, as SMUS held Brentwood to a single field goal in the third quarter. A mini-run from Brentwood, led by forward Jordan Charles, saw the Mill Bay squad scrape back to within seven points on two occasions, but it was never going to be enough. Erlic, Workie and Lafleur all hit big shots as SMUS pulled away, winning 56-38 when all was said and done.

For his superb defensive efforts, MacLure was named tournament MVP, while Erlic, Hyde-Lay and Workie were selected to the All-Star team. Yet, this title was about so much more than individuals, as the team defence, unselfishness and tenacity over the three days were the main story lines.

What made the victory and performance even more special was that Bill and Sylvia Greenwell, the inspiration behind the growth and initial success of SMUS hoops over thirty years ago, were in attendance.

With the Island title, the 10th for the school since 1983, SMUS jumped four places to #2 in the final BC AA rankings. The team moves on to the provincial event March 7-10 in Kamloops, with the Okanagan’s Princess Margaret HS the opening round foe.

Senior Girls Basketball
by Lindsay Brooke

The Senior girls basketball competed at the Island Championships this past weekend. They entered the tournament as the South 2 seed and were hopeful to make the final. In the opening game the team squared off with the Kwalikum Condors. The Blue Jags made quick work of the Condors, winning 49-34. Everybody got to play and Sophia Ducharme lead all scorers with 11 points. Madison Hadfield chipped in with 8 points and Sofia Terbasket-Funmaker pulled down eight rebounds. This set up a semi-final game against the North 1 seed, Wellington. Wellington was a virtual unknown, having not played many games outside of their zone. However, they boasted a provincial team player and had decent size and athleticism. The game was intense with SMUS taking the early lead, up 26-17 at the half and in control of the game. After three quarters SMUS led 37-30. Then the wheels fell off. SMUS stalled on offense and struggled against the Wellington press. They lost the fourth quarter 18-5 and as a result the game, 48-42. Abbey Piazza had 18 points and seven rebounds in a losing effort.

This was an extremely disappointing loss as it meant that the Blue Jags would now have to win the consolation side of the tournament and then travel to Vancouver on Monday to win a challenge game to earn a berth to the AA Provincials — no easy feat.

The team rebounded for their Saturday morning cross-over game against NDSS, an aggressive and physical team that gave SMUS some problems. However, SMUS worked hard and pulled out the victory 55-41. The girls had a balanced scoring attack with Rachel Sibbald netting 11 points, Erin Hope adding 7 points and Ali Pollen adding 3 points and seven rebounds.

The third place game was a matchup with Woodlands. Up 33-15 at the half, SMUS cruised to victory thanks to some stellar defense in the second quarter, allowing only 3 points. Final score: SMUS 57, Woodlands 46. Piazza led all scorers with 23 points and seven rebounds. Allie White had 12 points and 7 rebounds and Ducharme added 10 points. Ethel Kiggundu finished with six rebounds.

With the third place finish, SMUS had one day rest before travelling to York House to play St. Thomas More in the wildcard challenge game. SMUS had good success against STM in January defeating them by 25 points, but the Blue Jags expected this game to be much tougher. Thanks to some hot shooting by Ducharme and Piazza, SMUS jumped out to a 42-21 lead in the third quarter. STM made a few threes to keep it close, however the game was never in doubt. Rachel Sibbald put the defensive shackles on their shooter in the fourth quarter and SMUS finished the game with a win, 61-44. Piazza had 22 points and nine rebounds. Ducharme had 20 points and seven rebounds, White added 7 points and 13 rebounds, and Hadfield finished with 6 points and 10 rebounds. It was a terrific all-round game by the Blue Jags. With this win the team secured a berth to the AA provincials next week in Kamloops.

The team will enter the provincials ranked 8th, facing the host school, Sahali in the opening round game.

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