Sports

Hot-shooting Gators deny Hawks a trip to Final Four

In the aftermath of their 74-57 loss to the Walnut Grove Gators in the quarter-finals of the B.C. AAA boys basketball championships on Thursday, the box score told a grisly tale for the W.J. Mouat Hawks.

Interspersed among the tidy rows of numbers were several pertinent pieces of evidence explaining the Hawks' demise, which the Gators delivered in decisive fashion.

Walnut Grove, Mouat's arch-rival from the Fraser Valley East league, shot so hot from the perimeter, they might have melted the mesh hanging from the Langley Events Centre hoops. They went 7-for-14 from beyond the three-point arc in the first half, and finished the night 11-for-28 (39.3 per cent). The Hawks, conversely, were 0-for-9 from downtown.

On those relatively rare occasions when the Gators missed, they came away with the rebound more than their share of the time. The small-but-gritty Langley squad actually collected more offensive caroms (21) than the taller Hawks got on the defensive end (20), and they out-boarded Mouat 49-30 overall.

The foul count, at least, seemed to be in the Hawks' favour – they picked up just nine personal fouls, compared to 15 for Grove. But Mouat coach Rich Ralston felt that stat was not a product of discipline, but of his team's lack of aggression on defence.

All in all, it was a forgettable outing for the Abbotsford squad, which had been seeking a trip to the Final Four for the second straight year.

"We got beat by a better team," said Ralston, alluding to the fact the Gators won four of five games vs. the Hawks this season.

"We've struggled against these guys all year – they just play harder than us. And our guys tried hard, it's just that their effort wasn't always focused in the right direction."

Tristan Etienne, Mouat's 6'9" Grade 10 centre, had an efficient offensive outing, posting 15 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the floor, along with seven rebounds. But every time he made a basket in the paint, the Gators seemed to answer with a trey. Much of the time, it was Ethan McKean doing the damage – the Grove forward knocked down five triples en route to a game-high 20 points.

Paul Getz (16), Jadon Cohee (14) and De'Sean Monsanto (11) also scored in double figures for the Gators, while Jesse Coy posted 10 points and eight rebounds for Mouat.

Grove head coach George Bergen said he was "very concerned" going in about how his team matched up with Mouat, given the length that Etienne and 6'5" power forward Cam Friesen bring to the table. But his team's grit and ability to shoot the ball proved to be great equalizers.

"We've always been a pretty good three-point shooting team," Bergen explained. "From last year, we decided they hey, we don't have much size, so we'd better have a perimeter game. So we've spent a lot of time shooting, and it's paid off."

Walnut Grove moves on to face the Vancouver College Fighting Irish in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Friday at the LEC. The 8 p.m. semi features the Terry Fox Ravens and the White Rock Christian Academy Warriors.

Mouat plays the Kelowna Owls at 12 p.m. in consolation-side action on Friday.

LIONS ROLLING ON BACK SIDE OF DRAW

The Yale Lions picked up their second straight win on the consolation side on Thursday, crushing the Correlieu Clan 85-53. Trevor Berge, with 15 points, led Yale's balanced attack, which also saw Jacquin Bennett-Boire (13), Abraham Falls (12), J.J. Pankratz (12) and Jesse Gill (12) score in double figures.

The Lions wrap up their run at provincials on Saturday, when they face the winner of a Kitsilano-Belmont game at 1 p.m.

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