Corey Hauck and the W.J. Mouat Hawks did their best impression of David, but in the end, Goliath lived to fight another day.
The Hawks were heavy underdogs against the White Rock Christian Academy Warriors in the quarter-finals of the B.C. boys AAA high school basketball championship, having lost handily to the Warriors in the Fraser Valley semifinals two weeks prior.
But Mouat hung with WRCA throughout Thursday’s provincial tilt, and Hauck provided a quintessential March Madness moment at the end of regulation.
With the Hawks trailing 66-63 and the clock ticking towards zero, Hauck dribbled to his right, pump-faked, and drilled a three-pointer over the outstretched arms of two Warriors defenders.
The shot electrified the crowd at the Langley Events Centre (see video above), but WRCA fended off the Hawks in overtime, winning 72-69.
Hauck had a chance at a second buzzer-beater, launching another potential game-tying trey from virtually the same spot on the floor. This time, the ball rolled around the rim and fell out.
“I thought it was in, personally,” the Grade 11 point guard said with a wry grin afterward. “But it was just short.
“We battled hard. We knew coming into the game they were going to battle hard too, so we just tried to work as hard as we could.”
The Hawks, coming off a 74-65 win over Handsworth in the round of 16 on Wednesday, fought the Warriors to a 32-32 stalemate at halftime, then opened the third quarter on a 5-0 run.
WRCA was undeterred, clawing their way to a five-point advantage early in the fourth quarter after Tyus Allen and Matt Perrin opened the frame with back-to-back three-pointers.
But Mouat stayed within striking distance, and Hauck rewarded his teammates’ resilience with his thrilling triple.
“I don’t know what was going through my mind,” he said with a chuckle, reflecting on the shot at the end of regulation. “I just pulled up, and after I pump-faked him, it just went it. I was just feeling it. It felt good.”
Hauck tied WRCA’s Allen for game-high scoring honours with 27 points, and Tristan Etienne racked up 25 points and 10 rebounds.
The Warriors had beaten Mouat 67-51 in the Valley semis, but the Hawks were a mentally tougher group for the rematch.
“We wanted it a lot more than last time,” Hauck analyzed. “Last time we weren’t ready.”
ST. GEORGE’S 96, YALE 85
In the end, it wasn’t necessarily their smallish stature that did in the Yale Lions.
The Lions actually out-rebounded the taller St. George’s Saints in Thursday’s provincial quarter-final at the Langley Events Centre, snaring 68 caroms to the Saints’ 54.
St. George’s simply came up with more big plays in big moments en route to ousting Yale – one of the pre-tournament favourites – 96-85.
The Lions, coming off a 95-63 win over the Caledonia Kermodes on Wednesday, struggled out of the gate, missing their first eight shots from the field as the Saints marched to an early 12-0 lead.
Yale responded with a 12-3 run to get right back into it, but every time they would draw close, St. George’s had an answer and would pull away again.
The pattern continued all game long, culminating late in the third quarter when the Lions finally knotted the score 59-59 on a pair of free throws by Jauquin Bennett-Boire. That marked the first time the two teams had been tied since it was 0-0.
But on the very next Saints possession, Drew Urquhart – St. George’s 6’7″ Grade 11 forward who was Yale’s primary nemesis on this night – worked his way into the paint for a layup plus the foul. He made the ensuing free throw for an old-fashioned three-point play, giving the Saints a lead they would not relinquish.
Yale simply couldn’t stop the Vancouver squad down the stretch – St. George’s piled up 34 points in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
In the aftermath, Lions coach Al Friesen noted that in the moment of truth, his team just wasn’t able to get over the hump.
“You need that personality on the team, that one guy who is going to light a fire,” Friesen said.
“You look at the kids – they’re very, very polite and kind. But they don’t talk to each other, they don’t encourage each other, scold each other. They don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings.
“They wish the best, but wishing? You can wish for a pony. I did all the time when I was a kid. Never got one.”
Urquhart is precisely the type of tall, springy, versatile athlete the Lions tend to have trouble defending, and he was a beast on Thursday, racking up 27 points and 20 rebounds. St. George’s point guard Deklan Chung chipped in with 23 points, including a trio of three-pointers in the third quarter that seemed to demoralize the Lions.
Bennett-Boire, Yale’s Grade 10 point guard, proved impossible for the Saints to keep out of the paint at certain points of the game, and he finished with 28 points and 16 rebounds. JJ Pankratz scored 26 points, while Jassi Gill had 26 points and 10 boards.
Both Abbotsford teams now move to the consolation side of the draw. The Lions face the Burnaby South Rebels at 12 p.m. on Friday, and the Hawks take on the South Kamloops Titans at 2 p.m. Both games are at the LEC’s secondary gymnasium.