Athletics Review: It’s the Most Basketball Time of the Year

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by Darin Steinkey

The SMUS basketball teams have generated a lot of buzz this season and feel confident going into the holidays. Even the Middle School teachers and students are getting into it, as they held their annual teachers versus students game. Squash coach Chris Hanebury also sent us a highlight package from their big tournament back east.

Senior Girls Basketball
by Lindsay Brooke

In their first real test of the season, the SMUS Senior girls basketball team captured the silver medal over the weekend at the ISA Championships held at Mulgrave School in West Vancouver. Team members making the trip were Abbey “Zeke” Piazza, Sophia “Duke” Ducharme, Erin “Video” Hope, Rachel “Skywalker” Sibbald, Jocelyn “Jitterbug” Yan, Kate “Downtown” Cluley, Ethel “Iggy” Kiggundu, Orla “Big O” Glen, Jenna “Cash” Dhillon, Claire “Disco” Williams, Sam “Sugar” Colby, and Emma “Scoobie” Donald. Team members Mackenzie Blaisdell and Stephanie Wong-Harrison were not able to make the trip.

The girls drew a very tough and well-coached team in Southridge from South Surrey in the 1:45 pm time slot. The Southridge girls applied pressure from the outset with a zone press and physical play with the result that the SMUS girls found themselves down 8-0 very quickly. With timely and deadly three-point shooting from “Duke” (14 points) and some fine transition hoops from “Iggy” (11 points along with Player-of-the-Game honours), the Blue Jags managed to right the ship for a hard fought 50-42 victory.

In the late game Friday, a semi-final matchup against host school Mulgrave, the SMUS girls once again found themselves playing against a very physical team. The game was a see-saw battle throughout with the Blue Jags prevailing in the end with a 52-50 victory to move into the final. “Zeke” (19 points) was stellar in bringing the ball up against pressure and controlling the SMUS offensive sets while still managing to get her own baskets. “Skywalker” earned Player-of-the-Game honours for her relentless pursuit of the ball on the offensive boards, which led to a tidy 18 points.

In the final on Saturday afternoon, the Blue Jags came up against perennial powerhouse, York House Tigers, who despite claims of a “rebuilding year” still managed to execute their offensive and defensive assignments with a speed and precision which often left the Blue Jags on their heels. York jumped out to an early lead but the SMUS girls battled back to keep the score close at the half, 26-22. An early surge by the Blue Jags in the third quarter looked promising but then the wheels fell off and the girls suddenly found themselves down by 16 points. SMUS won the fourth quarter by outscoring the Tigers 24-14 but, alas, the third quarter letdown was too big to overcome and the Blue Jags fell 64-52. “Skywalker” (10 points) led a balanced SMUS attack with contributions from “Zeke” (8 points), “Duke” (8 points), “Big O” (7 points) and “Disco” (6 points). All in all, it was a solid start to the season for the Blue Jags. Good work, girls.

Junior Boys Developmental Basketball
by Richard Primrose

The Junior boys developmental basketball team kicked off their season this week with five games, including a big win in their first league game against Esquimalt. Mike Edwards was a key performer, scoring a team high 11 points, with centre Aidan McCleary chipping in another 9 points.

The weekend brought stiff competition, with the boys struggling to find their rhythm against the Oak Bay B squad Friday evening. Saturday morning brought the stiff competition of Semiahmoo, from Surrey, and the boys gave them all they could handle. Despite giving up size at most positions, the Blue Jags kept the game close going into the fourth, eventually falling 44-34. Steven Piazza was a standout, with his sharp shooting keeping the game close.

The final game of the weekend was against perennial powerhouse Wellington from Nanaimo. In a defensive battle, the Jags played their best basketball yet, and lost a close one, 28-19. Angus Catto was a standout, leading the way with seven points. Overall, the team enjoyed significant growth over the course of the weekend, which will be needed against the provincial elite at Vancouver College next weekend.

Junior Girls Basketball
by Aimee Daly

The Junior girls have spent the last month training and practicing for their upcoming season. Last Monday, the Junior Jags faced their first opponents of the season, Pacific Christian, in an exhibition game. Unfortunately, the girls – who were low in numbers due to injuries – were unable to secure a win over the Pacers.

After a couple of good practices the girls headed to Claremont on Friday for the Victoria Tip-Off Tournament. They faced Port Alberni in their first game, and came away with a victory. Emma Loughton was the leading scorer with 16 points. After a few hours off the Jags came out strong against Belmont and led the entire game. Belmont turned it up in the final quarter and was able to take the victory by one point at the buzzer. The girls had an early game Saturday morning against Pacific Christian whom they were determined to beat. With a slow start to the game and many missed opportunities, the girls were unable to take the win, and lost by only 5 points. Olivia Donald had an impressive defensive game, and was the leading scorer with eight points. The girls rallied and in their final game against D.W. Poppy they were able to clinch a big win, 59-14.

Everyone contributed in different ways in the tournament and helped gain a 7th place finish overall. The team has a break from games until January when league games begin, but in the meantime they will be training over the holidays.

Squash: Canadian Junior Open
by Chris Hanebury

SMUS Invitational
by Ian Hyde-Lay

Three teams, at the Junior and Senior level, were in action over the weekend as part of eighteen games hosted in the SMUS Jamboree.

The Junior A team, following an easy victory at the Parkland Invitational a week ago, found the competition much tougher this time around. An opening 59-41 win over Surrey’s Fleetwood Park was nowhere as easy or convincing as the scoreline might suggest. While starters Max Pollen (18 points), Jason Scully (11 points), Jake Wilmott (8 points), Graeme Hyde-Lay (6 points) and Liam Catto (6 points) provided the bulk of the scoring, it was a critical three from Alex Caton, late in the third quarter, which proved to be the key hoop.

Next up was a hugely exciting game versus Semiahmoo of White Rock. The SMUS defence conceded too many easy drives and shots, with the Totems happy to grab a 25-22 halftime lead as a result. The Blue Jags improved after the break, and seemed in control with less than 90 seconds to play. Yet again, however, a lack of urgency on defence gifted the visitors three straight buckets and a 50-47 lead with mere seconds to play.

Happily, at least from a SMUS perspective, it all ended well. Good ball movement against the Semiahmoo zone resulted in a corner three for Catto, who duly obliged at the buzzer to send the game to overtime. The hosts fed off the momentum of this game tying shot, jumping ahead quickly in the extra session and winning 57-53.

The final game was something of an anticlimax, with a late second-half surge required to defeat Oak Bay 50-35. David Lee provided eight timely points.

With the wins, the team, currently ranked #8 in the provincial Junior poll, moved to 7-0 on the season.

The Senior squad, fresh off of the ISAs, played games against North Island AA contenders Mark Isfeld of Courtenay and Wellington of Nanaimo.

In the opener, a 24-10 run, spanning the first quarter break, saw SMUS to a comfortable 17-point lead at intermission. Mark Yorath (18) and Georgios Ikonomou (10) led a balanced Jags attack, but it was team defence that really caught the eye in what ended a 62-38 Jags win.

The next morning, despite a slow start that had SMUS trailing 5-4 after five minutes of play, some fine Jags shooting soon had the scoreboard ticking over. Ikonomou nailed four trifectas as part of his team high 19, while Yorath, Dawit Workie, Dave Pollen, Wayne Lin and Matt Rud also connected from beyond the arc. Mack Catto added a dozen points in addition to fourteen defensive rebounds. Tyler Rodetje performed superbly for the Wildcats, but even his 25 points were of little help in a 78-54 home triumph.

SMUS now enters week three of the season at 7-0 overall and still #1 in the BC AA polls. A massive test looms on December 15, when provincial AAA power WJ Mouat arrives in town for an exhibition game. Start time is 5 pm.

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