Not bad for a team that was only ranked fifth heading into the Fraser Valley Championships.
Despite the disadvantage of playing on the road in the Fraser Valley playoffs, the Lions had an impressive run to the title match, where they defeated Surrey’s Lord Tweedsmuir 88-78 to take the Valley championship.
“Nobody expected it from us,” coach Euan Roberts said about winning the Fraser Valley tourney as the No. 5 seed.
To reach the final the Lions defeated Panorama Ridge 93-64, Heritage Woods 97-67 and Terry Fox 107-94. Yale was led by senior guard Jauquinn Bennett-Boire, who had a pair of 40-point performances and Grade 11 guard Riley Braich, who also racked up double-digit point performances along the way.
Forwards Tamikah Otanga and Mike VanderWerff provided solid rebounding.
And while Yale scored an impressive 385 points during their playoff run, coach Roberts was most excited about his team defense. “[They’re really playing] well together, supporting each other,” he said. “Our offense is clicking too.”
The Lions head into the provincials with one of the strongest backcourt duos in B.C.: Bennett-Boire, who was named Fraser Valley league MVP, and Braich, who was named first-team all-star. Otanga, a forward, made the second all-star team.
Roberts is excited for the provincial tip-off next week, especially after the long road they took to get there. “It made it tougher but we like tough.”
And despite being No. 2 heading into the provincials, the coach knows it’s not going to get any easier. “It’s going to be tough,” he said, noting that his team is ready for the challenge. “So far we’ve done it.”
“To win provincials we have to hustle and rebound. We can’t allow good shooting teams second and third shots. We rely heavily on our defense to initiate offense.
The 4A boys’ provincial championships begin on March 11 at the Langley Events Centre. Yale takes on No. 15 Queen Charlotte, with tip-off at 10:15 a.m.