On a busy tournament weekend on the local high school basketball scene, the Yale Lions girls hoopsters served notice they’ll be a force to be reckoned with, both now and in the future.
The Yaleans swept to victory in both the senior and junior divisions at their annual Lions Classic tourney. Both gold medal victories came at the expense of the Maple Ridge Ramblers – the Lions prevailed 67-59 in the senior final, and the junior girls matched that performance with a 40-28 triumph in their title game.
Hailey Kendall paced the senior Lions offensively with 18 points against the Ramblers, including a trio of three-pointers, while Jessica Collins (14 points) and Sarah Kurath (10 rebounds) also had big games.
Head coach Euan Roberts said that his team’s defensive performance was the deciding factor in the victory, which was something of an upset – Maple Ridge is ranked No. 9 among B.C. AAA teams, while the Lions are currently unranked.
“We just played really hard,” Roberts enthused. “We challenged Maple Ridge to make plays and hit shots over our hands. The girls were really moving their feet and talking on defence.”
In the junior girls final, Taylor Lundrigan (11 points) and Jaylene Soegard (10 points) led the way for Yale.
MOUAT UPSET IN HAWKBALL SEMIS
Heading into the Hawkball Invitational, the annual senior boys tourney at W.J. Mouat Secondary, all signs were pointing to a high-profile clash between Pitt Meadows and the host Hawks in the final.
Pitt was, after all, ranked No. 3 in the provincial AAA rankings, while Mouat was No. 5.
The unranked Maple Ridge Ramblers didn’t follow that script, though – they upset the Hawks 59-48 in the semifinals on Friday.
Ankle injuries to their starting post players played a role in the Hawks’ downfall – Tristan Etienne was sidelined for the entire tourney, while Daniel Pawliuk saw very limited minutes. But Mouat coach Rich Ralston refused to use the injuries as a crutch.
“If we had played well, we still could have beaten Maple Ridge – the injuries were not the reason why we lost,” said Ralston, noting that his team shot 28 per cent from the field in the second half vs. Maple Ridge, including 1-for-11 from three-point range. “They played harder than us, and they’re tougher than us. We’ve got some toughening up to do.”
The Hawks wrapped up the tourney with a 62-51 loss to South Kamloops in the bronze medal game, though Ralston was happier with his team’s effort.
The final featured a classic Fraser Valley match-up between two iconic coaches – Rich Goulet of Pitt Meadows and Ken Dockendorf of Maple Ridge. It was far from an offensive masterpiece, but Pitt Meadows managed to grind out a 48-33 victory behind 27 points from tournament MVP Matt Blackaby.
It marked Goulet’s 1,000th victory at the helm of the Pitt senior boys team – an accomplishment that’s all the more amazing considering he suffered a stroke on July 1, the first day of summer vacation.
“I thought it was all over,” acknowledged Goulet, who is in his 33rd season at Pitt. “I’m still not out of the woods, but medication is the biggest thing for my high blood pressure.”
Goulet, a notorious growler on the Marauders sideline, was in quintessential form on Saturday, but he has no plans to adopt a calmer demeanor.
“I’m still the same guy no matter what,” he said. “And I want to be the same guy. I don’t want to be calm. That’s not me. I’ve got to be myself. That’s the secret to my coaching – that I’ve always been myself.
“Some people don’t like it, but the kids get used to it, and I don’t think they’re the ones that hate it the most. We try to do as great a job as we can.”
Hawkball all-stars included Mouat sharpshooter Jesse Coy, Maple Ridge teammates Max Neumann and Jacob Durkovich, Pitt’s Trevor Severinski, and South Kam’s Spencer Jaroszuk.
YOUTHFUL HURRICANES FOURTH AT HOME
The Hansen Hurricanes senior boys finished fourth at their Roundball Classic tourney.
After knocking off Merritt 63-39 in their opener on Thursday, the Hurricanes fell 73-65 to the Elgin Park Orcas of Surrey in the semifinals, despite a terrific shooting performance from J.D. Dhaliwal – he knocked down five three-pointers in the loss.
Elgin Park went on to win the tournament, edging North Surrey 75-70 in the final, while Hansen finished up with a loss to another Surrey squad, L.A. Matheson, in the bronze medal game.
Hansen head coach Sukhpaul Dhaliwal has a relatively youthful crew on his hands this season, with just three Grade 12 players on the roster. Post player Arsh Gill has been a bright spot – he was named a first team all-star at the Roundball Classic.
“He’s been our leading scorer in most games, and our hardest worker,” Dhaliwal said of Gill.
This season, for the first time, the Hurricanes are moving down from the AAA ranks to AA.
“Most of our other sports teams have been AA for four or five years now,” said Dhaliwal, noting that the school-size classifications are slightly different in each sport. “We’ve been right on the borderline, but we’re 18 or 19 students under (the threshold) this year.”