The Senior boys basketball team hosted the Island AA Tournament late last week, with the eventual SMUS versus Lambrick Park final game producing an array of highlight reel plays and the inevitable dramatic finish.
After all four quarterfinals played out as expected, the competition really got into gear at the semifinal stage. While Lambrick Park handled Brentwood fairly comfortably, the host Blue Jags’ encounter with North No. 1 seed Shawnigan was a roller coaster of swings and momentum shifts.
Indeed, after a physical and hard fought opening 20 minutes, Shawnigan, behind two outstanding guards, pushed out to a 39-27 lead midway through the third quarter. Then, stunningly, SMUS hit back hard, making multiple defensive stops and hitting shot after shot. Quite incredibly, the game ended with the hosts on a 41-6 run en route to the final. All-Stars Ryan Hindson, Ben Keep and Lucas de Vries combined for 51 points in the 68-45 victory, with the latter also adding 16 rebounds.
The next evening, in front of an overflow crowd, SMUS and Lambrick Park duly squared off in the final. At stake was not only the Island title, but also a coveted No. 2 seed at the provincial tournament. The Lions jumped to an early 12-4 lead, but the Blue Jags fought back to draw level at 21. Then Lambrick Park nailed a pair of three pointers and added a layup at the buzzer to lead 29-21 at halftime.
Of course, the drama was still to come. A much more consistent SMUS, featuring its trademark stingy defence, and with Keep and Hindson dominating the scoring, closed the gap and then took a 40-39 lead to the final frame. This margin grew to as much as seven, with the score then at 56-51 as the clock showed just over two minutes to play.
Undeterred, Lambrick Park, scrambled back to within a single point with 34 seconds remaining. Then came the play of the night: off a broken play at the end of the shot clock, one of the Lions connected on a 30-foot bomb for his first trifecta of the season; 58-56 for Lambrick.
SMUS still had chances to reply, but it was not to be. Two three-point attempts, the second of which spun in and out at the buzzer, missed the mark.
Despite the disappointing loss, SMUS has still qualified for the upcoming provincial tournament, to be held March 9-12 in Langley. The Blue Jags, likely to be seeded 5th in the sixteen team field, must wait until the March 6 Selection Sunday for confirmation of their first round opponent.
(photos by Kyle Slavin)