Local hoops fans have lots to cheer for as the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District have three teams playing at the provincial championships in B.C. High School Boys Basketball at the Langley Events Centre.
Between the new quadruple-A division and the triple-A division, there are two 16-team tournaments underway at the event.
Unfortunately, all three of the local schools lost their tournament opener, and so can finish no higher than ninth.
The Samuel Robertson Technical Titans are at the senior boys tournament for the first time in school history, and the players and their fans are enjoying the moment.
A busload attended their opener on Wednesday morning, and led by the senior girls basketball team, painted up and proud, they loudly cheered on their Titans.
“It’s so exciting – the buzz is around our school,” said Kim Verstaeten.
“You see it on TV, and it’s like ‘Our school is going to be there,’” added Morgan Leatherdale.
They opened against a tough opponent in St. Thomas More, the fourth-ranked AAA team in the province.
The girls would give a guttural blast on their vuvuzelas just as an STM shooter was putting up a free throw, and cheer a missed shot like they made it happen. When it comes to high school hoops, the fans get invested.
But the Burnaby squad took over the game in the second quarter, outscoring the Albion team 15-4 in that frame, and cruising to a 64-41 win.
Cole Lamont had 12 points and five steals, and Mitch McDole finished the game with 11 points and seven rebounds.
“It’s a pretty cool experience,” said Lamont after his first game at the provincials.
“We came out a little flat footed. We hadn’t played in a week,” said starting guard Austin Rebalkin. “We’ll be better now that we’ve played one.”
He said being part of the tournament is a win for the Titans.
“Everyone’s super pumped. We didn’t expect this at all, coming into the year.”
Coach Scott Tomlin said his team suffered “a lot of nerves” in the opener.
They played intensely hard, several playoff games a week, just to qualify for the tournament, but then had a week layoff in which to go cold.
“It’s their first time here. We have no tradition of our school being here,” said Tomlin. “The goal is to win two out of four. As a first-time school, to do that would be a good thing.”
Trevor White said he thought he spotted a tear in Tomlin’s eye when the Titans won their way through the Fraser Valleys and qualified for the B.C. Tournament.
“I feel really good for him,” said White. “He’s really energetic, and he’s good at keeping us focussed on the floor, and playing at our pace.”
The Titans played their second game on Thursday, and lost 61-44 to Nanaimo.
Their next game will be this morning at 8:30 a.m. against the McNair Marlins of Richmond.
Their local rival in the triple A tournament, the Maple Ridge Ramblers, also opened with a loss, but won on Thursday. Wednesday night was a defensive battle with the Mark Isfeld Ice which the Ramblers lost 45-39.
Guard Ethan Coumont led the Ramblers with 19 points and nine rebounds, while forward Isaac Halas has 13 points. Both are Grade 11 players, which bodes well for the Ramblers’ chances of returning to the provincials again next year.
On Thursday morning the Ramblers beat L.V. Rogers 52-35.
Next up, they will play Surrey’s Fleetwood Park today (Friday) at 11:45 a.m.
In the AAAA tournament, the Pitt Meadows Marauders lost a heartbreaker 74-68 in their opener against the Vancouver College Fighting Irish.
Inside the arena, with a whole section of Green-clad Pitt fans in tow, chanting “Mra-der pow-er,” the Marauders jumped out to an early 21-14 lead after the first quarter. But true to their name, the Irish brought a scrappy effort the rest of the way. By half time the score was 38-37 for the Irish.
As always, big post Graham Smith led the Marauders with 29 points,12 rebounds and eight assists.
Hakeem Wewala also played an intense game, and came away with 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Zach Villaneuva keyed the offence and put up 13 points, and Jordan Murley also pitched in 13.
On Thursday morning, the Marauders lost to the Cowichan Thunderbirds 55-50.
Smith continued his bid for a provincial all-star selection with 24 points and nine rebounds. Wewala also had nine rebounds and five points.