Solid starts for Lions, Hawks hoopsters at home tourneys
The high school basketball season tipped off with a pair of local tournaments on the weekend.
The Yale Lions senior boys finished second at their home tourney, the Big Ball Classic, dropping a 89-81 decision in a high-profile match-up with the Kitsilano Blue Demons in the final. The Lions opened the season No. 2 in the B.C. AAA rankings, while Kits was No. 3.
Yale built a double-digit lead in the second quarter, but the Blue Demons rallied after Lions senior swingman J.J. Pankratz got into foul trouble. Pankratz sat for much of the second quarter before fouling out in the fourth, and Kits pulled away down the stretch.
Jauquin Bennett-Boire, Yale's phenomenal Grade 10 point guard, racked up 31 points in the final, while Abraham Falls (23 points) and Pankratz (16) also chipped in offensively for the hosts.
Blue Demons centre Luka Zaharijevic was named tourney MVP, while all-stars included Yale's Pankratz and Bennett-Boire, Noah Derappard-Yuswack and Justin Sze of Kits, and Martin Bogagev of Burnaby South.
"I was happy – we played pretty well," Lions coach Al Friesen said. "We were winning most of the game, but they're a very good team. They're real big up front, and they gave us some problems – not as many as I thought they would, though.
"I don't know where we'll end up, but I think we're a team that has lots of potential to get better as the season goes on."
HAWKS RALLY TO STUN RAMBLERS
On the senior girls scene, the W.J. Mouat Hawks finished fifth at their home event, the Century 21 Classic, which has become the premier season-opening girls tourney in the province.
The Hawks upset the Maple Ridge Ramblers, starring 6'3" Oregon State-bound senior Kolbie Orum, 60-56 in the fifth-sixth placing game.
Maple Ridge led by 12 points heading into the fourth quarter, but Mouat rallied to win behind a 21-point outing (including five three-pointers) from point guard Jessie Gunther. Siblings Carmelle and Penielle M'Bikata played tough defence on Orum.
"We were totally out-matched, but we played great defence," Hawks coach Tara Burton enthused. "The girls worked so hard and were really ready to grind out a victory."
The defending B.C. AAA champion South Kamloops Titans won the gold medal, beating the Oak Bay Breakers 62-52 in the final. Tourney MVP Maya Olynyk scored a game-high 22 points, while teammate Emma Wolfram had 19. Lauren Yearwood led the way for Oak Bay with 18.
The Fleetwood Park Dragons of Surrey beat the Kelowna Owls 61-54 for bronze.