The Pitt Meadows Marauders will take part in the first-ever B.C. High School Boys Basketball quad-A tournament.
Pitt has now made it to the provincials in 10 out of 11 years, but the school’s inclusion in this year’s event was by no means a foregone conclusion.
Pitt is still a triple-A sized school under the new league rules, and coach Rich Goulet said he asked his players if they wanted to go in that division or move up a “weight class” and play on the quad-A circuit.
“They said that when they came to school to play here, they came here to play in a program at the highest level. They came to play the best basketball.”
Coach Rich Goulet explained that there are only 16 teams in the tournament instead of 20, and only six berths available for the tough Fraser Valley. His team entered the tourney as the sixth seed, so there was little margin for error.
And this year’s Fraser Valley tournament featured teams as big and talented as he has ever seen.
On Thursday, in a “do-or-die” game, his team beat North Surrey 72-66. Pitt was down 10 points in the second quarter, then started to chip away and take the lead by the end of the third. Big post Graham Smith had 31 points and 10 boards, point guard Elijah Lapurga scored 14, and Hakeem Wewala 15 points.
Friday, the Marauders’ backs were still against the wall against Heritage Woods, and they again won 72-67.
Goulet said Pitt played a sloppy second quarter and spotted the Kodiaks a 14-point lead. Again they battled back, tying the game 51-51, then winning a see-saw battle down the stretch. Smith had one of his best games of the year with 40 points, 20 rebounds and seven blocks.
On the outside, Lapurga hit some key treys, and was good for 16 points.
That win was their ticket to the provincials, so Saturday’s seeding game against the Sardis Falcons was not an impassioned performance. Pitt lost 99-70. Smith had 29 points.
“I was happy with everything until we played Sardis, and we looked exhausted,” said Goulet.
The B.C. tournament draw was relatively kind to the Marauders, who enter the tournament in the sixth berth out of the valley. They will open against the Vancouver College Fighting Irish – a tough team, but not one of the province’s elite. They played them earlier in the year, and Goulet is expecting a close game.
“We played them in their barn, and we were missing our point guard Elijah, and lost in overtime.”
They tip off the tournament on March 12, 1 p.m., at the Langley Events Centre.