Pitt, MRSS through to Fraser Valley championships
The Pitt Meadows Marauders Air Force and the Maple Ridge Ramblers both survived their respective league playoffs last week and are through to the Fraser Valley AAA high school boys’ basketball championships, which get underway this week.
The top eight teams from the 32-team tournament will qualify for the provincial AAA championships, which takes place March 15 to 19 at the Langley Events Centre.
Pitt Meadows secondary went 2-1 at the Fraser Valley North league playoffs, earning themselves the No. 2 seeding going into the regional playoffs.
“That’s right where I thought we’d be, frankly,” said head coach Rich Goulet.
Pitt entered the Fraser Valley North league playoffs ranked seventh in the province, despite finishing fourth in league standings with an 8-2 record.
Pitt opened the playoffs last Tuesday with a 72-55 win over Coquitlam’s Dr. Charles Best secondary. That set up a semi-final match-up with host Heritage Woods, who finished first in the Fraser Valley North standings with a 9-1 record.
The Marauders, who handed the Kodiaks their only loss of the season in league play, again dominated the Port Moody team, trouncing them 67-43 to advance to the league final.
Despite the Kodiaks’ size advantage, the Marauders were able to stifle Heritage Woods’ shooters.
Malcolm Williams led Pitt scorers with 24 points, while Trevor Severinski had 14 points and nine rebounds. Matt Blackaby also had a strong game, contributing nine points.
However, the Marauders had a far tougher time with the Terry Fox Ravens in the final, losing 61-48 to the Port Coquitlam team for the second time in the past two weeks.
“I was really perturbed,” said Goulet. “We came out in a funk, and we never really woke up from it.”
Fox led from the outright and held a healthy lead over Pitt for the majority of the game. The Marauders were able to generate some scoring chances in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t find the basket.
Williams was the lone offensive standout for the Marauders, sinking 19 points, while Severinski grabbed 13 rebounds.
The Marauders No. 2 seeding means they will play Earl Marriot in the opening knock-out round of the Fraser Valley championships this Friday at home, and could potentially play three home games in the early stages of the tournament. While the Marriott Mariners finished eighth in the Fraser Valley South West league with a record of 2-6, the route to championships gets murky with teams like Walnut Grove, Enver Creek and Tamanawis all gunning for the top spot.
“It always amazes me the talent when you get to this level,” said Goulet. “You can look at the left side of the bracket, and any of those [top 16 seeds] could win it.”
Meanwhile, Ramblers coach Ken Dockendorf said he’s proud of his depleted team for just making it this far. The Ramblers have only seven players on their senior team this year, and two of them are Grade 10 call-ups from the school’s junior team.
When injuries struck the team in December, the team had to cancel three weeks worth of games because they couldn’t find enough players to suit up.
“I’ve never had a season like this, not even close,” said Dockendorf.
The Ramblers, who went 1-7 in league play, opened their league playoff with a 67-50 win over Rick Hansen, guaranteeing them a berth in the Fraser Valley championships. Hansen led early and held a two-point lead at the half, but centre Jacob Durkovich helped rally the Ramblers in the second half, scoring 16 points in the final two quarters as Maple Ridge outscored Rick Hansen 40-21 en route to the win.
The Ramblers did not fare as well against the powerhouse Walnut Grove Gators, losing 94-45 on Thursday. After a narrow 59-52 loss to Abbotsford Collegiate Friday night, the team was able to muster a 57-53 win over Robert Bateman secondary on Saturday.
Travis Eagle led the way for the Ramblers with 27 points, while Max Neumann chipped in 18.
The No. 21-seeded Ramblers now face the No. 12-seeded Heritage Woods Kodiaks in the opening knock-out round on Friday, and Dockendorf says his squad will need everything they have to pull off the upset.
“We’ll need the game of our lives,” he said. “A bit of luck too.”
In the AA playoffs, the Thomas Haney Thunder are out of the running for the Fraser Valley championship after an opening round 81-79 loss to Pacific Academy, however, the Thunder still have a shot at qualifying for the AA provincial championships in Kamloops, March 9 to 12.
The Thunder, who finished third in the AA Fraser Valley North league with an 8-3 record, face the Holy Cross Crusaders in the second round of the playoffs tonight at Holy Cross in Surrey. The Crusaders finished third in the Fraser Valley South league with a 7-4 record.