Athletics Review: Bouncing Back From Adversity

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by Darin Steinkey

This week we’re highlighting Senior basketball with some tough tourneys for both the boys and girls. Sports Canada TV will live stream the Senior boys game tonight at SMUS. Catch all the action here.

Also, congratulations to SMUS Crew coach Susanne Walker Curry, who was presented with her Level 4 NCCP Certification in coaching at the Rowing Canada Aviron awards dinner last weekend.

Senior Boys Basketball

SMUS competed in the Countdown to the Playoff Tournament at Brentwood on February 1-2. The 16-team field featured the absolute best AA squads in the province and served up some superb games.
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The Blue Jags opened with a very straightforward 77-40 win over Edward Milne, with Wayne Lin (15) and Jordan Lane (10) leading the usual balanced attack.

In the quarterfinals against Gulf Islands, a blistering opening quarter produced a 27-10 SMUS lead. After this, things settled down, with the teams trading baskets in what finished a 64-46 Blue Jags victory. Dawit Workie rode some red hot shooting to a game high 21 points, while Georgios Ikonomou (12) and Matt Rud (11) also chipped in. Unfortunately, the game took its toll in one regard, as post Mack Catto re-aggravated a knee injury in the first minute.

The two SMUS wins set up a mouthwatering semifinal clash vs BC AA #1 Holy Cross. The huge and athletic Crusaders featured a front line of 6’8″, 6’7″, 6’5″ and 6’5″ forwards was always going to provide difficulties, especially with Catto unavailable, and so it proved. Still, a gutsy Blue Jags effort almost produced a notable upset, as six third-quarter bombs helped overturn a 28-21 halftime deficit.

The game’s key moment likely came with five minutes to play. Up 50-48, SMUS saw an open three-pointer rim out, with Holy Cross then scoring seven straight points to wrest back the initiative. A SMUS layup with 13 seconds to play would have cut the margin to 58-56, but when it spun out, the last chance was gone.

In defeat, Workie and point guard Mark Yorath performed superbly, while, in the paint, despite giving away significant height and weight, Matt Rud and Lin battled hard.

In a game neither team really wanted to play, SMUS then had to meet an equally disappointed Belmont for the bronze medal. The Blue Jags laboured through the opening twenty minutes to trail by only five, but a subsequent 14-5 run by the Bulldogs then effectively settled the outcome.

Next up for SMUS is a February 6 matchup versus traditional rival Lambrick Park. Tipoff is 6pm at SMUS, with the game to be streamed live (see link above).

Senior Girls Basketball
by Lindsay Brooke, coach
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After defeating St. Margaret’s in league play 66-19 and Crofton House in exhibition play 61-34 last week, the Senior girls basketball team jumped on the ferry to Vancouver for some stiffer competition. Playing at the highly competitive York House Invitational, the Blue Jags drew an opening round match up with the current #1-ranked team, Holy Cross. Boasting an incredibly tall starting lineup (four players 5’10 – 6’0), SMUS was sorely outsized. The opening minutes saw both teams playing some scrambling basketball. The Crusaders settled in to their game and pulled ahead 21-14 after the first quarter.

Holy Cross dominated the Blue Jags on the boards and this posed a significant challenge to the SMUS team throughout the game. Furthermore, the Crusaders height made shooting and finishing around the basket very difficult. They looked like the #1 team in the province and they dismantled the Blue Jags at both ends of the court leading to a 70-32 victory. Despite the final score, SMUS played with intensity and competed hard the entire game. Abbey Piazza and Rachel Sibbald finished with 9 points apiece and Sophia Ducharme added 8 points. Claire Williams was a force for SMUS on the defensive end and on the boards. Erin Hope had a stellar second half, showing her aggressive play and ability to pitch to her teammates.
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Now on to the consolation side of the tournament, SMUS’ second-round opponent was Sa-hali of Kamloops. The Blue Jags started off on fire, finishing the first quarter up 16-3. Unfortunately, the tides turned in the second quarter as SMUS only managed to score 3 points of their own. At the half, SMUS was up 19-16. Offensive woes continued to plague the Blue Jags in the second half. Shots were hard to come by and percentages were low. Still, the Blue Jags had several opportunities to win the game down the stretch, but missed several key free throws in the closing minutes of the game. Sa-hali forced overtime and earned the win 49-43. Piazza finished with 17 points, Sibbald with 11 points and Ducharme with 9 points.

In their final game of the tournament, SMUS faced Mark Isfeld of Courtenay. The Ice boast a small squad of athletic players that can be deadly from the perimeter. All of the Blue Jags saw decent floor time in this game, as they jumped out to a 18-8 first quarter lead. Stellar on-the-ball defense by Jenna Dhillon, Rachel Sibbald and Emma Donald locked down the Ice’s top scorers. Offensively, Ducharme led all scorers with 18 points, Piazza chipped in with 15 points and Sibbald added 10 points. Claire Williams added 4 points and 9 rebounds. SMUS went on to win easily 55-40, earning them 9th place at the York House Tournament.

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