After the Abbotsford Senior Panthers secured the Fraser Valley AAA boys basketball championship on Saturday, head coach Prentice Lenz pointed out to his players that the program hadn’t won a Valley title since 1998.
That prompted Grade 10 centre Chase Claypool to pipe up.
“He said, ‘That was the year I saw born,'” Lenz recounted. “We had a good chuckle over that.
“But it’s fantastic (to win). We’ve had great school support here, great student support, and it’s been a lot of fun.”
The Panthers rolled through the Valley draw in dominant fashion. Their 82-67 triumph over Fleetwood Park of Surrey in Saturday’s final at Columbia Bible College was their closest game of the tourney – they won their previous tilts vs. Guildford Park, Sullivan Heights and North Delta by an average margin of 38 points.
Claypool paced the Panthers with 18 points in the final, and Luke Tompkins notched 14. Point guard Jamie Konrad was named tourney MVP, while Claypool and Sirban Gill were first team all-stars and Jordan Goheen was a second-teamer.
Abby Senior has been No. 1 in the AAA provincial rankings since mid-January, and they’ll be the top seed at the B.C. tournament next week at the Langley Events Centre (March 12-15).
The Panthers have benefited as much as any program from this season’s new high school boys basketball alignment, which Lenz termed “absolutely fantastic.” Teams have been divided into four tiers instead of the traditional three, with each tier housing roughly the same number of teams.
“In the eight years since I’ve been here, we’ve been anywhere between 10 and 25 boys over that AA limit,” Lenz explained. “So we were always . . . the lowest (student population) in the highest category (AAA).
“This has given us the same sort of framework to deal with in terms of student population, and given our kids a lot of hope in terms of what they can actually accomplish at the end of the year. It’s been pretty special.”
HAWKS, EAGLES, LIONS FALL SHORT AT AAAA VALLEYS
The inaugural AAAA boys provincial tournament will not feature any Abbotsford content.
The W.J. Mouat Hawks, MEI Eagles and Yale Lions made deep runs in the double-knockout Valley tourney, but all three fell just short.
The Hawks came the closest, losing a do-or-die game vs. the Sardis Falcons 96-82 on Friday which would have earned them one of the region’s six provincial berths.
The Eagles and Lions had been eliminated one day earlier. MEI made it through to the quarter-finals unscathed, but dropped a 93-55 decision to defending AAA champ Walnut Grove and then fell 80-76 to Mouat on the consolation side.
Yale lost 83-74 to Terry Fox in the second round, stayed alive with an 81-79 win over Lord Tweedsmuir, then dropped a 74-73 heartbreaker to Sardis.
YALE FOURTH AT JUNIOR GIRLS B.C.’s
The B.C. junior girls championship ran last week at the Langley Events Centre, and the Yale Lions finished in fourth place.
The Fraser Valley bronze medalists opened with a 44-15 win over Dover Bay, then upset Valley champion Panorama Ridge 51-50 in the second round. The Lions dropped a 30-24 decision to South Kamloops in the semis, and fell 58-27 to R.A. McMath in the third-place game.
The MEI Eagles finished 11th, posting a 2-2 record with wins over Dover Bay and New Westminster.
AAA, AA GIRLS PROVINCIALS TIP OFF IN LANGLEY
The B.C. AAA and AA senior girls tournaments hit the hardwood at the Langley Events Centre this week, and four local teams tip off on Wednesday.
In the AAA draw, No. 7 seed MEI takes on No. 10 Burnaby South at 3:30 p.m., with No. 3 Mouat facing No. 14 Caledonia at 8:45 p.m.
In the AA draw, the No. 11 Abby Christian Knights tip off vs. the No. 6 Vernon Panthers at 1 p.m., followed by the No. 8 Rick Hansen Hurricanes vs. No. 9 York House at 5:15 p.m.