Athletics Review: Preview of Rugby Tour and Provincial Basketball Recap

Junior and Senior Rugby
by Darin Steinkey

Our Junior and Senior boys rugby squads take off for Argentina and Uruguay this Friday. In the video above, David Pollen, Mark Kiggundu and Coach Anderson talk about the trip.

Senior Boys Basketball
by Ian Hyde-Lay

Seeded #2 going in, the SMUS boys took part in the BC AA Tournament in Kamloops March 7-10. The team hoped that the commanding Island title performance two weeks previous would be a springboard to the same success at the provincial level.

Day one action saw SMUS in complete control versus Princess Margaret of Vernon. A sizzling attack, based on 63% shooting, produced a comprehensive 85-47 win. Joe Erlic (18 points), Dave Lafleur (14 points) and Derek Hyde-Lay (10 points) paced the offence, with all fourteen rostered players receiving at least ten minutes of court time.

The victory set up a much anticipated quarterfinal against St. Thomas More. Regardless of a #7 seed, many pundits considered the Knights favourites, or at least co-favourites, to win the championship.

STM capitalized on a shaky start by SMUS to grab an early 8-0 lead, with the Blue Jags unable to generate any rhythm, corral loose balls or achieve parity on the boards. Down 35-22 at intermission and needing to regroup, SMUS continued to be outplayed during the third quarter, with the Knights scoring the first two hoops and then extending the lead to as many as 21 points (52-31).

In a last, desperate roll of the dice, SMUS moved away from its traditional man to man defence in the fourth quarter, switching instead to a Box and 1. This move stymied the STM attack, and, spurred on by an ever growing crowd, the Blue Jags cut into the deficit dramatically. Erlic finally started to find the range from beyond the arc, while Mark Yorath — the team’s best performer throughout the tournament — also added some timely hoops and neat assists.

The game’s pivotal moment came with 57 seconds to play and SMUS, thanks to a stunning 23-5 run, trailing by only three points. Unfortunately, with the Knights reeling and momentum having shifted dramatically, poor SMUS execution in transition resulted in only a loose ball foul. Instead of having to manage a precarious one point lead, STM shot free throws, putting the margin back to five. One more SMUS miss, followed by more free throws and the Blue Jags provincial title dream died in a 65-54 defeat.

It was always likely that there would be an emotional toll from such a gut wrenching loss. An early morning start to Day three against Windsor of North Vancouver saw SMUS summon just enough energy to lead 28-20 at halftime, with Liam MacLure again doing a good defensive job on Dukes’ star forward David Manshrek. A Monty Fraser-Brown three extended the Blue Jags lead to 37-26 halfway through the third period, and, had the following Dawit Workie trey gone down, there might have been no way back for an equally fatigued opposition.

Unfortunately, from a SMUS point of view, the game’s final fifteen minutes left much to be desired. Sloppy defence, anemic rebounding and poor shooting gave Windsor a lifeline, with the Dukes going on a 12-0 burst to take the lead. The run continued into the fourth quarter with the Blue Jags unable to make any big plays or offer any real resistance. The final horn ended the misery, with Windsor deservedly winning, 62-51.

Now there was only pride to play for, in what would be the last hurrah in SMUS colours for seniors Erlic, Hyde-Lay, MacLure, Lafleur, Liu and Huang. All things considered, the less said about this game the better. In the end, a missed Blue Jags layup, one of at least eight in the game, allowed Duchess Park to get into overtime.

In the extra session, SMUS continued to waste chances. Inevitably, the final nail was hammered by Condors’ point guard Luke Holmes, who buried a deep three at the end of the shot clock to put his team up 74-70 with 16 seconds to go. A final inbound mix up was one last exclamation point on six straight frustrating quarters of Blue Jags basketball.

Without question, playing erratically, finishing with three straight losses and placing 8th in BC was a bitterly disappointing way to finish. Signature wins earlier in the season against the likes of Terry Fox, Windsor, RC Palmer and, in the Island AA final, Brentwood, seemed a distant memory.

Key future steps are to start closing out tight games, especially on the road, and producing more big plays when under pressure. On paper at least, the 2012-2013 squad, with nine returnees, should be strong and very much in the provincial mix.

A final word is due Erlic, Hyde-Lay, MacLure, Liu and Huang. Even if a BC title eluded them, the quintet will always enjoy the significant distinction of leading SMUS to provincial appearances in each of their grade 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 years. VIVAT!!

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