One of the best local sports stories of 2014 was the return of Maple Ridge senior boys high school basketball teams to the provincial championships. The Maple Ridge Ramblers coach says his team has a shot at getting there again.
Ken Dockendorf’s Ramblers hosted a pre-Christmas mini-tournament with four teams. They they battled hard against quadruple-A team Enver Creek in a 60-55 loss. Ridge led the game 48-47 early in the fourth quarter, but the flu-ridden Ramblers couldn’t hold on, said Dockendorf.
Ethan Coumont led the scoring with 22 points and also ripped down 11 rebounds. Isaac Halas had 18 points and eight rebounds.
In their second game, against quad-A Chilliwack, the Ramblers won 74-47. Coumont again led the way with 22 point and 10 boards, Brad Curnew had 13 points and seven rebounds, and Josh Solk had 11 points. Colorado Zelinski, a Grade 9 player up with the seniors, had a strong game and put up nine points, said Dockendorf.
The coach said his senior team has only seven players in Grades 11 and 12. Three of last year’s starters are back in Coumont, Halas and Owen Stewart.
“The biggest problem we’ve got is numbers,” said Dockendorf, but added his senior squad is backed up by members of the junior team.
The tourney also included a junior division, and the Ramblers beat Enver Creek 36-26, and lost to Centennial by the same score.
The past year saw the advent of a new quadruple A division in senior boys basketball. With the largest, and most elite schools moving up to the most competitive division, smaller schools had a fighting chance, and they made the most of it.
The Maple Ridge Ramblers and the Samuel Robertson Technical Titans met in the bronze medal game at the Fraser Valley Tournament at the triple A level. The Ramblers won a defensive battle 47-39, but both teams achieved their tournament goal of qualifying for the provincials – a first for the Titans. That brought busloads of SRT fans to their games at the Langley Events Centre. The athletic Titans also got their first win at the B.C. championship level, as they beat LV Rogers 51-50 on the last day of competition.
The Ramblers had not been to the provincials in eight years. They lost their first game, and then won their next three, finishing ninth.
The Pitt Meadows Marauders also made it to the provincials at the elite quad-A level in its first year. They lost their opener 74-68 to the Vancouver College Fighting Irish, and posted a 2-2 record at the tourney.
Dockendorf said it will be tough to make it to the Fraser Valley Tournament this year, because the Fraser Valley East has 10 teams – including Ridge, SRT and Westview – but this year only four will advance to the eight-team tournament. Abbotsford Senior is the top-ranked team in triple A, and Abby schools Robert Bateman and Rick Hansen are both much improved, he said, so berths will be hard to come by.
The Ramblers next home game will be Jan. 3, when they face the MEI Eagles, another quad-A team, in a 6:30 p.m. start.