SMUS shores up their defence this week in the Athletics Review with basketball tournaments and wins galore. Squash coach Hanebury chimes in on the Pacific Northwest tournament as well.
Senior Boys Basketball
In a highly competitive sub zone event that featured the #2, #3 and #4 provincially-ranked teams, as well as two from the Honorable Mention Top Ten list, SMUS battled through three tough games to emerge as champions, earning the #1 seed to the full Island AA tournament.
In opening round play, the Blue Jags, bolstered by raucous home support and the return of Mack Catto (knee tendonitis) and Dawit Workie (Las Vegas 7s rugby duty for the Pacific Northwest), took on Shawnigan. Deadly outside shooting by point guard Mark Yorath staked the hosts to a 39-25 lead late in the second quarter, but the visitors clawed back to within seven at intermission.
The second half was more of the same, as SMUS, on several occasions, threatened to break the game open and extend a double digit lead. In the end, despite a misfiring Jags offence, swarming team defence and solid rebounding held sway in what finished a 62-50 win.
With the victory, SMUS advanced to a much anticipated semifinal showdown with Brentwood, who, by virtue of its own fine play in previous weeks, had secured the BC AA #2 ranking. In a game that featured stifling defensive pressure from both teams, the hosts prevailed 43-34.
Indeed, the Blue Jags jumped out to an early 12-2 lead, with some superb defending by Dave Pollen, on Brentwood star forward Jordan Charles, setting the tone for the evening. The visitors clawed back to 12-12, with the teams then trading the few hoops on offer to halftime.
After the break, and down 22-21, SMUS then went on a stunning 17-0 run, with Yorath, Catto and Keiler Totz all fueling the attack. The 41-26 lead after three quarters seemed safe enough, with passage to the final versus Lambrick Park all but assured.
Unfortunately, a very disjointed final period saw the Blue Jags muster only a solitary field goal, and it took some more sterling defense to protect the lead. Fortunately Catto, joined by fellow post Matt Rud, controlled the backboards, combining for 27 rebounds. This offset an unsightly 4/33 performance from beyond the arc, not to mention an equally shaky 5-13 effort from the free-throw line.
Nonetheless, it was onto the final versus Lambrick Park, with SMUS keen to avenge the 67-57 league defeat on February 6 to the same opponents. With that victory, the Lions had edged past the Jags in the provincial polls.
Another strong start, featuring crisp ball movement, red hot three-point shooting and more rock solid defense, allowed SMUS to jump out to a 13-2 advantage, which was extended to 29-14 and 34-17 by late in the second quarter. A fifteen point lead at intermission seemed a strong position, yet it proved to be anything but, with the Blue Jags squandering their hard earned lead in rapid fashion. Gone was the aggressive defending, while on attack, ball movement was replaced by one-on-one play and questionable shot selection.
With seven minutes to play, Lambrick Park was within a single point at 44-43, and indeed had three opportunities to take the lead. Then SMUS stiffened, behind nine straight points from Georgios Ikonomou. His tough, driving layup, followed by a deep three pointer, moved the Jags back in control at 49-43. From then, it was a matter of hanging on, with free throws by Workie, part of his game high 14 points, confirming a 58-51 final score.
Rud, though struggling from the field, turned in another outstanding defensive performance, limiting, with the aid of his teammates, Lions 6’9″ post Matt Neufeld to only eight points. Likewise, Wayne Lin, making light of a nasty ankle sprain which took him out of the two previous games, gritted it out through the final eight minutes to blanket Lambrick Park sniper Brendon Somers.
With the tournament victory, SMUS regains the BC AA #2 ranking and, more importantly, secures the South #1 seed in the full Island Tournament, to be held February 21-23 at Wellington SS in Nanaimo.
Senior Girls Basketball
by Lindsay Brooke, coach
The Senior Girls Basketball Team took their first steps into the playoffs this past weekend at the South Island Championships, hosted at Brentwood College. The South Islands featured the top five teams from Victoria and the three teams from the mid-island, which included Shawnigan, Brentwood and Gulf Islands.
In the opening round game, SMUS faced Edward Milne of Sooke. The result was an easy win (58-9) that saw many girls logging minutes. Mackenzie Blaisdell played her best game as a Blue Jag, finishing with 8 points and 5 assists. Orla Glen and Claire Williams had 10 points each and Jocelyne Yan added 7 points.
In the semifinal game, SMUS played the Panthers from Parklands. The much bigger Panthers gave the Blue Jags a run for their money. It wasn’t until late in the third quarter that SMUS was able to pull away. In the end, SMUS won 65-51. Sophia Ducharme led all scorers with 17 points and 12 rebounds, Rachel Sibbald finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds, and Abbey Piazza added 14 points.
Once again, SMUS would play Lambrick Park in the championship finals with the winner entering the Island Championships as the South #1 seed and thereby avoiding a potential semifinal match-up with the #5 provincially ranked Wellington Wildcats. The Blue Jags jumped out to a solid start, executing offensively and locking down Lambrick’s best scorer. They had a 30-18 lead heading into the halftime break. In the third quarter, Lambrick scored two bank 3-pointers and knocked in some other shots to cut the lead to 2 points heading into the fourth. In the late stages of the game, SMUS struggled to get easy baskets and good looks on offense. Leading by 1 point with under 30 seconds left, SMUS had possession of the ball. Lambrick needed to foul, to stop the clock, or get a steal. Lambrick fouled, sending Orla Glen to the line for two shots. With senior poise, Glen nailed the two free throws giving the Jags a three point lead. Those would be the clinching shots, as SMUS held on to win 56-53. Piazza finished with 13 points, Sibbald added 12 points, Ducharme added 11 points and Glen chipped in with 9 points. In addition to sinking the two clutch free throws, Orla Glen played terrific defense on Lambrick’s top scorer.
SMUS hosts the AA Girls Basketball Island Championships this weekend, opening against Kwalikum at 5:30 pm on Thursday, February 21.
Junior Boys Basketball
by Reagan Daly, coach
The Junior Boys wrapped up their city playoffs this week in dramatic fashion on Friday evening at Claremont High School, with a convincing win over cross-town rivals Oak Bay. The final score was 55-41, but into the start of the third quarter the game was never in doubt, and the boys held a double digit lead for the entire second half. This was the third time SMUS has won the title in the past 20 years. This year the boys went undefeated through league play and playoffs.
Graeme Hyde-Lay was named player of the game for the city finals, and Jason Scully was named MVP of the city tournament, which was sponsored by the Victoria Police. Max Pollen continued his strong play as well and contributions from the forward trio of Liam Catto, Matty McColl and Michael Cernucan helped to control the glass. Jake Wilmott again showed he is not just a three point threat, with some inspired defensive play, and Owen Sudul sparked the team in the 4th quarter with strong on the ball pressure.
This week the boys head to G.P. Vanier in Courtenay, where they face strong teams from the North and Mid-Island zones in their drive to win the Island title. The Island tournament runs Thursday through Saturday.
Senior School Squash
by Chris Hanebury
One of the biggest junior squash tournaments in Canada, the Pacific Northwest, took place in Victoria this past weekend. Twenty-nine SMUS players joined more than 190 participants in a variety of divisions. The weekend provided valuable first tournament experience for the members of our development team, while many of the senior school competitive team members had stand out performances.
The girls have steadily improved all season. SMUS dominated the Under 19B division with Noelle Skillings placing 2nd, Vivian Lam in 3rd, Giai Phan in 4th, and Uma Hallea in 6th. In the Girls Under 19 main division Janel Gaube looked sharp in her return from injury beating teammate Arden Mollenhauer along the way in a tight three games. Arden then went on to win the plate defeating two higher ranked girls. Madison Liew improved each match and finished tied for 7th in the Girls Under 15 draw. It was an impressive showing by all SMUS girls.
On the boys side it was once again Gavin Maxwell that led the way. Gavin won the Boys Under 17 without dropping a single game. He showed a lot of maturity by winning his first three matches quite comfortably and kept himself fresh for the finals. Also in the Under 17, Michael Rossi continued his rise up the squash ranks, finishing with a 3-2 record and narrowly missing a spot in the quarterfinals.
In the Boys Under 15 category, Jason Yoo showed everyone how much he has improved over the past year. He played a couple of rematches from this same tournament last season and battled his way to a 6th place finish. Our youngest team member, Tony Liu, played in his first major tournament and improved in each of his matches. Tony made a major impression on the junior circuit and is going to be a force to be reckoned with for years to come. A special congratulations goes out to one of Grade 3 student, Christian Yuen, who won the Boys Under 11. Congratulations Christian!
The team is getting right back to work as there are provincial titles on the line in two weeks at the BC Junior Closed in Nanaimo.