Yale Lions guard JJ Pankratz

Yale Lions guard JJ Pankratz

Top-ranked Lions roar at Delta tournament

The Yale Lions are B.C.'s No. 1-ranked AAA high school boys basketball team, which means a lot of folks are impressed with them.

The Yale Lions are B.C.’s No. 1-ranked AAA high school boys basketball team, which means a lot of folks across the province are impressed with them.

Heading into the Bill Kushnir Memorial Invitational at Delta Secondary last weekend, head coach Al Friesen was not one of those people.

The Lions had been winning, but they hadn’t been playing with the type of chemistry or attention to detail that Friesen knows they’ll need against elite foes come playoff time.

The Yaleans, though, put a smile on their coach’s face with a terrific team effort en route to gold at the Kushnir tourney – they crushed the No. 5-ranked Tamanawis Wildcats of Surrey 81-60 in the final.

“We had kids hanging their heads, self-pity, and taking things for granted,” Friesen said, reflecting on his team’s play prior to Saturday’s final. “But this was the most complete team effort we’ve had in weeks.

“The kids came out and competed on the glass and defensively. We really did the job.”

Yale opened up an early double-digit lead over Tamanawis and stretched the advantage to 28 points in the third quarter before easing off the gas in the fourth.

JJ Pankratz was named tourney MVP after scoring a game-high 27 points, and Jauquin Bennett-Boire scored 25 and earned an all-star nod.

The Lions’ season has been highlighted by a victory at the Abbotsford Police Tournament and a runner-up result at the Abbotsford Senior Snowball Classic.