As we bid farewell to Daylight Saving Time, we must also say goodbye to basketball season. Our writers take a look back at provincials last weekend and look ahead to next season.
Senior Girls Basketball
by Lindsay Brooke
The Senior girls basketball team arrived in Kamloops on Tuesday for the AA Girls Basketball Provincials. As the #11 seed, our opening round opponent was Vancouver’s St. Thomas More. SMUS started off strong taking a first quarter lead, 17-9. At the halftime mark, STM closed the gap to trail by just one point, 24-25. The third quarter was very tight and the score was tied 45-45 with just the fourth quarter remaining. Orla Glen and Claire Williams played solid minutes in the crunch as SMUS pulled off the upset 67-59. Abbey Piazza had a career game, finishing with 36 points and eight rebounds. Sophia Ducharme added 12 points. As a team, the Blue Jags shot a season’s best of 73% from the foul line. Piazza was named the Player of the Game. The win put the team in the top eight.
In the quarter final, SMUS played #3 seed St. Thomas Aquinas of Vancouver. It was a different game from the outset with STA pressuring SMUS all over the court. They locked down on Piazza and Ducharme, which stymied the Blue Jags’ offense. Rachel Sibbald wouldn’t go down without a fight, she was relentless on defense and gave her all to boost the Jags with her scoring punch. However, it would not be enough. SMUS was defeated 53-32. Sibbald finished with 10 points and 7 rebounds. Piazza added 10 points. Stephanie Wong-Harrison logged some minutes with the rest of the Grade 11 crew in the fourth quarter and garnered one of her first baskets of the season! Rachel Sibbald was named the Player of the Game.
In their third game of the tournament, SMUS played the Tigers from York House. York House is a basketball power, but this year’s team was young and their season was dubbed a “rebuilding” year. However, they boast an athletic and feisty team that caused problems for SMUS on both ends of the court. Down 23-15 at the half, SMUS just could not get the offense going. They finished the game, losing 48-27. Sophia Ducharme led the team with 10 points, including 4/4 from the foul line. She was also named the Player of the Game.
Playing for 7th place, SMUS faced the host school, Sahali on the final day of the tournament. It was a noon game in Sahali’s home gym. The game was tight the whole way, with Sahali taking the slight lead at the half, 26-19. SMUS made a strong push in the fourth quarter forcing a tie with just minutes to go. Unfortunately, Sahali responded with some key baskets and defensive stops. In the end, Sahali was victorious, 58-49. Piazza led all scorers with 18 points. Sibbald added 13 points and Ducharme added 9 points. Sibbald picked up her second Player of the Game honour.
The SMUS Blue Jags wrapped up the tournament in 8th place. Abbey Piazza was selected to the tournament’s All Star team, a fitting honour to cap off a spectacular four-year career with the Senior girls basketball team. The Grade 11 team members – Jenna Dhillon, Sam Colby, Emma Donald, Claire Williams and Stephanie Wong-Harrison – all made contributions at the tournament and gained some valuable experience that will benefit the team next season.
Junior Boys Basketball
by Reagan Daly
Vancouver College hosted the Junior boys provincials, with SMUS entering as the #4 seed. In the opening round SMUS faced off against #13 Fleetwood Park from the Fraser Valley. Despite a slow start, the boys opened up a 20 point lead in the third quarter and never looked back, cruising to a comfortable victory. Graeme Hyde-Lay and Jason Scully led the team in scoring. The win put the boys into the quarter finals and a match up with Burnaby South.
Against Burnaby South, the boys again the boys came out tentative, and went down by as many as 15 points in the first half. Despite battling back in the second, the closest SMUS came was 10 points, with a final score 62-52.
The third game matched the boys up with their Island rivals Oak Bay, whom they had beaten by 40 points in the Island final just two weeks previous. After the emotional loss to Burnaby South, the boys just could not muster the energy required and lost the game by five points.
The boys ended their tournament with a win over DP Todd from Prince George, to finish the tournament with a 2-2 record, and a 7th place finish. Jake Wilmott was named the “team” award winner for SMUS.
I congratulate the boys on a very successful junior season!
Senior Boys Basketball
SMUS, thanks to a disappointing fourth place finish two weeks ago in the Island Tournament, entered the BC AA event in Kamloops seeded 9th. This low seed, after a whole season at #1 or #2 in the provincial polls, put the Blue Jags on a quarterfinal collision course with top-ranked Holy Cross.
However, first up was a sticky match-up with talented King George from Vancouver, with the Dragons coming nicely into form after a season marred by injuries to key players. While a red hot start saw SMUS grab leads of 8-0 and 11-2, inevitably the game swung back to the struggle most expected.
SMUS, behind Dawit Workie’s game high 21 points, led 34-31 at the half, but then trailed 44-43 entering the final period. Happily, some sharp execution over the final minutes resulted in some easy layups and a 62-54 Blue Jags victory.
The win set up the much anticipated quarterfinal with Holy Cross, with a large crowd in attendance. The game certainly did not disappoint, with no quarter sought or given by either team. The massive Crusaders, featuring a quartet of athletic 6’7″ forwards, simply dwarfed their Blue Jags counterparts and used the height and weight advantage to forge a 26-21 halftime lead.
The game swung on two key moments. The first came early in the third quarter, with SMUS failing to reduce the five point deficit despite making multiple defensive stops. Then, with two minutes to play and the shot clock winding down, guard Taylor Browne connected on a tough, pressured three to extend the Holy Cross lead to 57-48. For SMUS, there was no way back, in what finished a 61-50 Crusaders win.
The speed and physicality of the game took a definite toll on both teams. Indeed, pre-tournament favourite Holy Cross never did manage to bounce back fully, upset the next day in the semifinals by eventual champion Kelowna Christian.
With the loss, SMUS – for whom guards Workie, Mark Yorath and Georgios Ikonomou had performed superbly – moved on to a consolation match of sorts with a ready, yet over matched, Collingwood. All players saw plenty of action, putting on a defensive clinic to lead 30-7 at halftime en route to a 59-31 final.
The final game was against RC Palmer of Richmond. With Ikonomou doing an outstanding job locking up Griffons’ star forward Jamie Madewan, SMUS moved smartly to an early lead, and then, behind some solid play by a reserve group led by Keiler Totz, extended the margin to 39-23 at intermission. Yet, any hopes of an easy victory vanished in the second half. A whole series of missed Blue Jags layups and a failure to control tempo allowed Palmer back in, and with two minutes to play, SMUS led only 61-60. Happily, order was then restored with eight straight closing points. Forward Matt Rud claimed Player of the Game honours.
The 5th place overall finish was SMUS’ best in a decade. Yorath was named to the tournament All Star team, while Ikonomou claimed the Outstanding Defensive Player award.
A most enjoyable and competitive season saw SMUS finish with an overall record of 30-10, claim the ISA and South Island tournament titles and reach the championship final of both the Oak Bay and Cowichan events. It also marked the end for an outstanding group of seniors. In addition to Yorath, Ikonomou, Workie and Totz, Wayne Lin, Dave Pollen, Mack Catto and Dave Wang all played a significant part in the team’s success.
Expect SMUS to be very much back in the provincial mix in 2013-2014. Rud, Jordan Lane, Saeed Shokoya, Liam Keeler-Young and Danny Wu all return, and this quintet is set to be joined by some very capable performers from the junior ranks.