In the intensely competitive ecosystem that is the Fraser Valley AAA high school boys basketball tournament, the line between survival and extinction can be razor-thin.
The Abbotsford Senior Panthers and MEI Eagles found that out first-hand on Wednesday – they wound up on opposite sides of that line after enduring pulse-pounding games in the sudden-death elimination round.
The Panthers, the No. 12 seed in the 32-team draw, weathered a stiff challenge from the No. 21 Centennial Centaurs at Mouat Secondary. The Coquitlam squad took them to overtime, but Abby Senior prevailed by a score of 77-73.
Senior forwards Devin Brar (29 points) and Matt Brar (23) led the Panthers’ scoring parade, while Jamie Konrad chipped in with 16 points.
MEI sustained a painful defeat – playing at Yale Secondary, the No. 14-seeded Eagles led No. 19 Fraser Heights by 20 points at halftime, but watched the Firehawks claw their way back for a 74-72 victory. Fraser Heights hit a go-ahead three-pointer with four seconds left in regulation, and MEI wasn’t able to get a buzzer-beating shot to drop.
Eagles coach Jon Schmidt noted that his team struggled in the second half with turnovers and getting defensive stops.
“Sign of a young team,” he said in an email, “but we will be back stronger next year.”
In other local action, the Yale Lions and W.J. Mouat Hawks advanced with home-court victories, while the Bateman Timberwolves saw their season come to an end.
The No. 3-seeded Lions crushed No. 30 Port Moody 100-38. Yale’s starters only saw about eight minutes of court time in the blowout, and every one of the 12 players on the roster scored at least one basket. Anoka Athaya led the charge with 19 points, while Kyle Innes had 10.
The No. 5 Hawks were also dominant – they blew out No. 28 Queen Elizabeth of Surrey 64-33. Point guard Corey Hauck paced a balanced attack with 16 points, while Corey Hauck 16, Hunter Struthers (eight points), Tristan Etienne (seven) and Daniel Pawliuk (seven) also chipped in.
The No. 25 T-Wolves were in tough against the No. 8 Sardis Falcons, falling 78-38 at Sardis.
The 16 teams who survived Wednesday’s action now enter the double-elimination phase of the tourney.
The next games run Friday, highlighted by an all-Abbotsford match-up between Mouat and Abby Senior. That game tips off at 6:15 p.m. at Tamanawis Secondary in Surrey. Yale hosts Fraser Heights at 8 p.m.
For a full schedule and list of results, visit fvbball.org.