It sounds odd on the surface, but W.J. Mouat Hawks guard Jesse Coy plays best when his game is seasoned with just a dash of selfishness.
That’s according to Mouat coach Rich Ralston, and to clarify, it’s not the kind of selfishness where a player jacks up shots until his arm gets sore as his teammates grow increasingly frustrated. Rather, it’s a healthy aggression, and a desire to assert oneself at pivotal junctures of the game.
In the first half of the Hawks’ opener at the B.C. AAA boys basketball championship against the Kitsilano Blue Demons on Wednesday at the Langley Events Centre, there wasn’t a hint of selfishness in Coy’s approach, healthy or otherwise. He was overly deferential, and the shots he did take were of a passive nature – settling for mid-range jump shots rather than driving to the hoop.
In the second half, it was a different story.
Midway through the third quarter, the 6’3″ senior took over, scoring 11 consecutive Mouat points to boost a slim 41-40 advantage as high as nine points.
Early in the fourth quarter, he picked up his fourth personal foul, and had to go to the bench for a couple minutes. In the interim, the Blue Demons clawed their way back to within 56-54 with three minutes remaining.
But Coy came off the pine to score six points in a row, including a three-pointer with 1:31 left that represented the dagger in a 66-55 Hawks victory.
“As soon as it left my hands, I knew it was going in,” Coy said with a smile, reflecting on the last of his three treys on the night. “It felt amazing, shooting 0-for-3 in the first half and then going off in the fourth.”
Coy racked up a game-high 23 points, along with seven rebounds and three steals, en route to player of the game honours.
“We need that from him,” Ralston said of Coy. “We want him to be even more aggressive – he’s still a little bit passive. He’s so good in transition, and sometimes he defers a little bit too much.”
At halftime, Ralston sensed he didn’t need to say much to nudge Coy in the right direction.
“He was sitting on the bench between (Hawks co-coach) Pat (Lee) and I as we were talking back and forth about what adjustments we were going to make in the second half,” Ralston said. “And he was just sitting there kind of grinding his teeth, getting himself ready to go. And he did it. He was great.”
Mouat also got a terrific defensive performance from Grade 10 centre Tristan Etienne. The 6’9″ youngster, just over two months removed from open heart surgery to repair a hole in his heart, dominated his match-up with Kits star Luka Zaharijevic. Zaharijevic, 6’6″, is usually a very efficient low-post scorer, but against Etienne, he mustered just seven points on 3-of-13 shooting from the floor.
Etienne crammed the stat sheet with 16 points, 12 rebounds, seven blocked shots and five steals.
“Tristan is a special defensive player,” Ralston enthused. “He’s long, he has excellent timing, and he and Luka have a long history together in club (with Drive Basketball of Richmond). Tristan was confident he could take care of him (one-on-one) and he did.”
Mackenzie Thompson carried Mouat for long stretches in the first half, and finished with 14 points. David Burton, with 23 points, was the lone Kitsilano player to score in double figures.
The Hawks move on to face the Walnut Grove Gators, their Fraser Valley East arch-rivals, in the quarter-finals on Thursday evening (8:15 p.m., LEC). George Bergen’s Grove squad won their opener over Mount Douglas 78-73, and they boast a 4-1 record vs. Mouat this season. Ralston said his team must match the Gators’ intensity in order to reverse that trend.
“They have a habit of out-working us, and their quickness and athleticism is a challenge for us,” he said. “We need to work as hard as them, straight-up. Otherwise we’re not going to be able to beat them.”
• On the consolation side of the draw, the Yale Lions rebounded from an opening-round loss to Point Grey by thumping the Caledonia Kermodes 100-59 on Wednesday. They move on to face Correlieu at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday.
W.J. Mouat’s Cam Friesen puts pressure on Kitsilano’s Alex Vidic during opening-round action at provincials on Wednesday. (Boaz Joseph photo)