The winter sports season came to a close this past weekend, with two SMUS basketball teams contesting provincial championships.
The Senior Boys entered the BC AA tournament, held at the Langley Events Centre, as an unheralded No. 11 seed, but also as one of many teams that had a chance to upset the form chart. So it proved, as SMUS first recorded an exciting come-from-behind victory over No. 6 Brittania. Down 16 points with less than a minute to play in the first half, the Blue Jags slowly reduced the margin and finally edged ahead 47-46 late in the final frame. Will Kinahan, in addition to playing excellent defence, then hit a tough, driving layup to secure a three-point victory.
More excitement was to follow on Day 2. Matched against No. 3 Langley Christian, SMUS faced nine-point deficits on three separate occasions before clawing back to lead 54-53 with 3:30 remaining. The Lightning then hit consecutive threes to take back control at 59-54, though the real drama was yet to come. In the end, a key offensive rebound hoop and free throw from Noah Helman, followed by the game-winning trifecta from tournament All-Star Tristan Kuhn, produced a 60-59 final.
Alas, the clock seemed to strike midnight in the semi-finals, with the Blue Jags matched against a red-hot George Elliot team. Though on the back foot, SMUS hung tough for almost the entire first half but conceded six late points to trail 42-28 at intermission. In the second half, the Coyotes were not to be denied, blunting any opposition comeback before engineering a 17-0 run en route to a comprehensive victory.
In the bronze medal game versus Sahali, SMUS substituted liberally, with several reserve players gaining valuable floor time. Deadly outside shooting was the difference as the Sabres claimed third place.
Nonetheless, reaching the provincial semifinals represented a fine achievement for a SMUS team that had shown variable form throughout the season. Yet, patience and hard work were eventually rewarded. In addition to Kinahan, Helman and Kuhn, guards Karter Fry and Ty Olynyk were instrumental in the group’s success.
SMUS also competed in the BC Grade 8 Girls Basketball finals. In opening round play, the Blue Jags, led by Makena A. and Brianne M., defeated Vancouver No. 1 Glenbrook. Unfortunately, quarterfinal opponent William A. Fraser Middle School’s pressure and physicality proved problematic. While the Blue Jags fought back from an early 13-2 deficit, they could only get within four points before falling away again to lose 46-33.
The third game was an absolute thriller. While SMUS led 21-18 at halftime, opponents Unity Christian enjoyed a hot third quarter to gain the lead 38-33 before notching another two hoops to go up 10 points with only six minutes remaining. Undeterred, the Blue Jags, thanks to stout defense and accurate shooting, then went on a 12-0 run to regain control. Free throws by Makena A. (part of her game-high 30 points) and Eva C. eventually secured a 48-47 victory, with Camryn R., Jenna M. and Alienor D. also playing key roles.
A last match versus Fleetwood Park concluded the tournament. The Dragons took control early and maintained a lead between three and eight points for most of the game. Some late foul shots made the final score 42-30, as SMUS finished in 6th place. Makena A. and Brianne M. were both named to the tournament All-Star team.
At the BC Squash tournament in Richmond, 19 SMUS athletes performed very credibly, starting with alumnus Brooke Herring. The 2018 grad returned for the competition and reached the U19 Girls final.
Alex Brown, with a third place finish in the U17 Girls flight, also reached the podium, while missing out by very narrow margins were Sofia Quon (4th in U15 Girls), Lucas Q. (4th in U15 Boys) and Christian Yuen (4th in U17 Boys). John Duffey also played strongly in his event.
Some spring sports also took place in recent weeks, with the Senior and Junior Boys Rugby squads in exhibition action. In a Jamboree held March 4 at Claremont Secondary, the two groups combined for four wins and a draw from six 20-minute matches. Then both groups won matches against Vic High in 7s. At the Senior Boys level, Josh Mao, Max Nishima and Elvis Duru performed particularly well, with Eddie Kim and Michael Moulden in good early form for the Junior Boys.
SMUS, the defending Senior Girls AA Provincial Soccer champions, opened its league account with a comfortable victory versus Edward Milne. Both Zoe Lott and Claire Pontefract notched a brace for the Blue Jags, while Claudia Murr recorded the shutout.