The squash team enjoyed a very successful Pacific Northwest Tournament, with the event held in Victoria at various sites February 9-12. More than 220 athletes from all across Canada and the western United States took part, with the 44 from SMUS performing very well.
Pride of place went to Brooke Herring, who won the Girls U17A in a five-set thriller against a Lower Mainland opponent. Katie Rothwell (U17B), Charlotte Campbell (U17), Alex Brown (U13) and Grace Thomas (U19A) also reached the podium.
On the Boys side, there were medals for Mark Felea-Motet, who dropped a five-set heartbreaker in the U19B Division, while Matthew Wong placed third. Nathan Von Hagen finished third at U17A level, losing only a single match, while Stanley Weng reached the final of the U15B event.
Congratulations to the entire team, which now looks forward to the B.C. Junior Closed event in Vancouver in three weeks.
On the basketball front, playoffs began for a number of teams. The Senior girls contested the AA South Island tournament, winning their opening match fairly comfortably against Shawnigan Lake School. Mia Roberts led all scorers with 14, while Hayley Watson added 8.
Brentwood provided both the semi-final opposition and some stiff early resistance, frustrating the SMUS offence. However, the Blue Jags simply exploded in the third quarter, running up 22 unanswered points to extend the 26-21 halftime lead. Leah Sparkman, Robyn Noel and Shalese Jordan helped ramp up the defensive intensity, while Marika Shafonsky paced a balanced attack with 14 points.
The final, with SMUS matched against Victoria No. 1 seed Pacific Christian School, was an absolute thriller and played in front of a jam-packed gym at Lambrick Park. The Pacers hit shot after shot to open the game, and went on to lead 41-26 at the break. This margin grew to as many as 19 before the Blue Jags mounted a furious comeback. Sparkman’s ball hawk defence helped turn the tables, while senior guards Roberts and Olivia Donald combined to knock down six triples. Amazingly, SMUS took the lead at 61-60 with 2:50 to play. However, to their considerable credit, the Pacers then regrouped to claim the win.
SMUS now advances as South No. 2 to the Island AA championship, to be held February 18-20 in Nanaimo. As only two teams qualify for the provincials in Langley, everything rides on the Jags’ predicted semifinal match-up against North Island top seed Ballenas.
In their own City tournament, the Junior girls, behind a career-high 30 points from Meredith Selwood, opened with a 47-40 victory versus Oak Bay. Then, in a tight, tense, foul-filled semi-final versus host Claremont, SMUS could not hang on to a slim one point third quarter advantage, losing 38-34 despite the best efforts of Emily Stone and Zoe Lott.
Happily, with the season on the line, the team turned in an inspired defensive effort to defeat Stelly’s 28-19. With the pressure off and an Island qualification secured, SMUS then defeated Oak Bay once again, this time 44-40. Tournament All-Star Taylor Noel led the way with 12 points and made several key free throws down the stretch.
In the Islands, to be held February 18-20 at the new Royal Bay Secondary in Colwood, SMUS opens against North No. 2 Alberni.
The Junior boys opened City playoffs with a straightforward win versus Spectrum, with key Grade 10s Ephraim Hsu, Matt Hagkull and Triumph Kerins combining for 30 points. Then came an astonishing comeback in the semifinal against Mount Douglas, with SMUS, after an ice-cold half of shooting, down 29-16. The Rams extended this lead to 19 points before the Blue Jags began to chip into the lead. As can often be the case, momentum swung sharply. Hsu and Kerins paced the attack, while Grade 9 guards Taevon Downey and Ty Olynyk made key contributions. A frantic final minute saw SMUS edge ahead and win 48-45.
Two days later, the Blue Jags threw caution to the wind against heavily favored Belmont, taking a 25-19 lead to intermission and 34-25 late into the third quarter. Then came the game-defining play, as SMUS missed an easy shot, conceded a three, and then another three to start the final frame. What should have been an 11-point lead was suddenly only three, with the Bulldogs, confidence restored, ultimately edging SMUS 46-39.
Nonetheless, a second-place City finish qualified SMUS for the Islands. The team opens against host Carihi on February 18.
At the Senior boys level, SMUS secured a top seed in its upcoming AA City finals, though not before an amazing home league game versus arch rival Lambrick Park. The tightest of defensive struggles saw the two teams knotted at 45 after regulation time, with the Lions then immediately securing a five-point advantage in overtime. However, Jamison Schulz-Franco hit a deep three to cut the margin to two, and, after the Blue Jags made a final defensive stop, the ball found its way to Ryan Hindson in the right corner. Under considerable pressure, he nailed an improbable three at the buzzer for the win.
Ben Keep had his best game of the season, while Lucas de Vries contributed a 12-point, 12-rebound double-double in addition to five blocks.
SMUS faces a busy week, with a Tier 1 make-up league game at Oak Bay that happened on Tuesday. Then come playoff games February 18 and 19, with all signs pointing to another match-up versus Lambrick Park.
What a difference a few months has made for the Junior boys B squad. Demolished by Oak Bay at the start of the season, this time around SMUS muscled out a 48-42 Round 1 win in the City playoffs. In their most passionate effort to date, the boys, led by Kinya Yamamoto, Connor Way and Duc Khuong, played with real grit and passion, diving for loose balls and contesting every shot. Next up is a semifinal match versus Glenlyon Norfolk School.
Meanwhile, the Senior boys B team wrapped up its season at Lambrick Park on Monday night. Though down 20-4 to the hot shooting Lions after ten minutes, and then 43-19 at halftime, the Blue Jags, behind the rebounding of Shaco Chi and Derek Tam, played an inspired third quarter. Timmy Qi and Rahul Nair provided the bulk of the offence, as SMUS closed to within 10 points. However, the hosts then steadied to claim the win.
Thanks to all who took part, especially the Seniors, for their character, sportsmanship and love of the sport.
Finally, the Senior boys rugby group enjoyed its first competitive hit out, battling visiting Marin County RFC. The San Francisco-based Highlanders proved to be skilled and well organized, with both teams making light of a very muddy pitch and monsoon-like rain. In the end, SMUS just shaded an entertaining affair, scoring six tries to four to triumph 32-22. Sam Kahn had a successful 1st XV debut at scrum half, while co-captains Jonas Robinson and Josh Graffi were likewise influential. Centre Felix Butterfield ran strongly in attack and registered two fine tallies.
(photos by Kyle Slavin)