The Senior boys basketball team retained its BC AA #1 ranking, capturing the title at the Countdown to Playoffs Tournament at Brentwood College.
In running its overall record to 21-8, SMUS showed its usual good balance in four games played over two action packed days.
First up, the Blue Jags dispatched Kwalikum 71-30, with all 11 players dressed contributing well and registering on the score sheet. Five hours later, the squad was back on court against an AAA team: Windsor of North Vancouver. The Dukes offered up some stiff early resistance, and then made something of a fourth quarter comeback. However, one final SMUS run, sparked by Liam Keeler-Young, confirmed the 81-53 victory.
Elphinstone provided the semi-final opposition. The Sechelt based team features two provincial team players, both of whom were very prominent in helping build a 17-9 first quarter lead. Yet SMUS, behind ten of Matt Rud’s game high 22 points, finally found a rhythm, with a 26-11 run producing a seven point halftime advantage.
More stingy SMUS defence left Elphinstone no way back after intermission, with the Blue Jags winning 68-47.
This moved the team into the final, once again vs arch rival and BC AA #2 ranked Lambrick Park. Some blistering shooting by Danny Wu helped shred the Lions 2-3 zone and staked SMUS to a 24-10 first quarter lead.
However, Lambrick Park, making light of the non-availability of starters Jake Hamilton and Ismail Abdulahi, and with 6’10” post Matt Neufeld proving almost unstoppable, then enjoyed a good run of its own, rattling off 11 straight points to close the gap. Using this momentum, the Lions went into halftime up 32-31.
Some defensive adjustments proved key for SMUS in the game’s final fifteen minutes. Jake Wilmott, Max Pollen and Jordan Lane combined to force a number of turnovers, while some timely hoops from Graeme Hyde-Lay and tournament MVP Jason Scully pushed the Blue Jags back in front en route to a 59-47 win.
SMUS now faces three Tier 1 league games in the next ten days, including a visit to Lambrick Park on February 6 for which the Lions will expect to be at full strength.
Meanwhile, the Senior girls took part in the St. Thomas More Classic in Burnaby. In the opener against Centennial, the Blue Jags started strongly before turnovers and missed layups in the second quarter put the team down 12 at the half. The offensive struggles continued after the break, with SMUS ruing a missed opportunity in a 44-38 loss. Claire Williams led the way with 14 points and 15 rebounds. Beta Willeboordse added eight boards while Emma Loughton chipped in with seven points.
In their second game, SMUS faced physical and scrappy Chilliwack. Much more poise and focus at both ends of the floor was rewarded, with Williams again dominant with a double-double (12 points, 13 rebounds) in the 46-41 victory. Loughton added nine points while Izzy Gudgeon performed solidly off the bench.
In the consolation final, the Jags now faced Byrne Creek. SMUS settled in nicely, shutting down the high scoring Bulldogs. Williams was again a real force, ripping down an astonishing 29 rebounds in addition to netting 16 points. Loughton again played steadily, hitting some key jumpers as part of a 54-50 win.
Next up for the Blue Jags is a league game at PCS on Tuesday, February 4.