The W.J. Mouat Hawks have weathered more than their share of adversity this season, but they’ve endured.
Their reward? A trip to the B.C. AAA high school boys basketball championships.
The Hawks beat the North Delta Huskies 79-52 in Fraser Valley Tournament action at the Langley Events Centre on Friday afternoon, locking up one of the Valley’s seven provincial berths in the process.
Grade 10 point guard Corey Hauck earned player of the game honours after counting four three-pointers among his team-high 19 points, while Mackenzie Thompson (18 points) and Tristan Etienne (12 points, 12 rebounds) also had big games offensively for the Hawks.
“The guys were totally tickled pink,” reported Hawks co-coach Pat Lee. “For many of them, it was a sigh of relief.”
That Mouat’s place among the province’s elite was ever in doubt was largely due to persistent injury issues.
The Hawks began the season ranked No. 3 among AAA teams in B.C. But Etienne, Mouat’s 6’9″ Grade 10 centre, missed five weeks after undergoing open heart surgery to repair a hole in his heart, and senior power forward Cam Friesen has been in and out of the lineup with a knee injury.
The result was an uneven season that saw the Hawks plummet out of the top-10 rankings.
After falling 75-57 to the Terry Fox Ravens of Port Coquitlam in the Fraser Valley quarter-finals on Monday, the Hawks had to survive a do-or-die game against Maple Ridge on Thursday, which they won 56-33.
That set the stage for Friday’s victory. The game was close at halftime, but the Hawks put together a terrific defensive performance in the second half, spearheaded by senior guard Jesse Coy.
The AAA provincials run March 13-17, also at the Langley Events Centre (LEC).
“I never really thought we’d have trouble getting there, but I’m always an optimist,” Lee said. “Once the pieces got back together, I thought we could be really good.
“Maybe by next week, we’ll be there again – where we’ll be really competitive and taking people on with a bit of a swagger.”
LIONS ON THE BUBBLE
In other Fraser Valley tourney action on Friday, the Yale Lions are on the razor’s edge in the battle for a provincial berth after falling 77-70 to the White Rock Christian Academy Warriors.
Yale was in the exact same position as the Hawks – win, and you’re in. Lose, and face a do-or-die game for a trip to the B.C.’s.
The Lions take on North Delta in the Valley’s seventh-eighth placing game on Saturday (2:30 p.m., LEC), with the winner claiming the region’s final provincial slot.
Mouat plays WRCA in the fifth-sixth game (Saturday, 4:15 p.m., Langley Events Centre).