Pitt Meadows senior boys’ basketball head coach Rich Goulet knows better than anyone that all bets are off once you get to provincials.
The Marauders Air Force were reminded of this fact on Thursday as they were upset by the Terry Fox Ravens in the quarterfinals of the 2012 B.C. AAA High School Basketball Championships at the Langley Events Centre, losing 66-30 in their worst defeat of the season.
That loss knocked Pitt Meadows out of contention to win their third AAA B.C. title, relegating them to the consolation round. Terry Fox, meanwhile went on to claim the title for themselves, beating Walnut Grove 75-74 in the final.
The Marauders, who have been a picture of consistency by maintaining their No. 2 provincial ranking all season long, shot just 14.5 per cent from the field against Terry Fox, and 7.1 per cent from beyond the arc.
Starting guard Matt Blackaby, who has averaged double-digit scoring all season long, had just two points for the Marauders, both from the free throw line. Trevor Severinski led Pitt scorers with 16 points.
Pitt Meadows coach Rich Goulet was at a loss to explain his team’s meltdown against Terry Fox, a team they had beaten twice in the last month.
“We’re still trying to figure out what went wrong,” he said. “We haven’t had a bad game all season, we’ve been so consistent, that’s what makes it so weird.
“It was like we were on a different planet.”
Pitt Meadows missed shots, missed checks, missed open lay-ups, and the Ravens took full advantage, says Goulet.
“Terry Fox was on top of their game, they were really motivated,” he said. “We had no rhythm, no mojo.”
However, Goulet said he takes full responsibility for what happened on the court.
“I don’t blame the kids,” he said. “If they weren’t mentally prepared for the game, that’s on me.”
On Friday, however, the Marauders were back to their old selves, rebounding with a 27-point win over the Tamanawis Wildcats.
Blackaby led the way for the Marauders with 28 points, while Severinski had 18 points. Mitsu Iwai had nine points, three steals and four assists. “We were back to normal, just like that,” said Goulet.
“We played great the rest of the tournament.”
The win over the Wildcats set up a final consolation round match-up with the No. 1-ranked Kelowna Owls. The two teams many thought would make up the championship final, instead played for fifth place.
For the first time this season, the Marauders were able to beat the Owls, finishing their season with a 62-53 win.
“That really felt great, to finish with a win over Kelowna,” said Goulet. “Provincials didn’t go how we expected, but to get that win felt good.”
Severinski had 27 points, while Blackaby had 17, in the last game they played together in Pitt Meadows colours.
“It’s the end of an era,” said Goulet.
Of the team’s five starters this season, only Sebastien Marchall will be returning next year.
Goulet has already started the rebuilding process, but admits next year’s team may struggle to qualify for provincials.
“Next year’s team will be a lot less experienced,” he said. “We will be relying heavily on [this year’s] junior team.”
While a provincial title may have eluded the Marauders this year, with only four losses combined in exhibition, league play, and playoffs, the 2011/12 campaign goes down as their winningest season ever.
This season also marks just the second time the Marauders have claimed the AAA Fraser Valley championship.
“It’s not easy, winning the Fraser Valleys and provincials,” said Goulet. “All four times we made to the [championship game] at provincials, we didn’t win at the Fraser Valleys. Both times we won the Fraser Valleys, we didn’t have a great provincials.”
Severinski was named to the tournament’s second all-star team, while Blackaby was named to the third team. For the second year in a row, Iwai was named the tournament’s most inspirational player.
“He played his heart out for us,” said Goulet.