Game 1: 8:30am – Rutland vs. Semi
To tip off the first game of the day, the Rutland Voodoos (11th seed) will be sparring up against the Semiahmoo Totems (6th seed). This will definitely be a tight matchup, given both teams are relatively close in the overall rankings.
The Voodoos defeated their chief rival, the Kelowna Owls, to win the Okanagan Valley Championships for the first time in 41 years. Translation: these boys mean business.
Coach Jeff says this is an “unbelievable group of boys”—so expect a lot of hustle and heart on the court.
“They really do play for each other and they are all about making one more pass.”
The Totems have two star players in Adam Paige and Vlad Mihaila, who are both in their last year with the team. Expect these seniors to come out strong for Semi.
Semiahmoo has had an interesting season, placing third at the Fraser Valley’s and losing to Oak Bay in the finals at the Leagle Beagle. They also recently came second in the Fraser Valley Southwest playoffs, losing Tamaniwis. Long story short: these boys know how to make it far in a tournament and will want revenge on their opponents this time around.
Coach Ed Lefurgy says his boys will bring the pressure in every game, including in their first matchup against the Voodoos.
"We are excited for a quality test. [Rutland] beat Kelowna and we know they are a competitive group. We are going to have to play an excellent game to win."
Game 2: 10:15am – Belmont vs. Mouat Hawks
On paper, this may look like a blowout. However, the Belmont Bulldogs (13th seed) will have a lot to prove against the W.J. Mouat Hawks (4th seed), so expect them to be ready to rumble.
Head coach Kevin Brown says the Bulldogs have “plenty of depth”; therefore, they won’t be relying on just one specific player.
“We have several guys that can fill the bucket. Isaac Ickovich is our Sr. center who was the high scorer this year on Vancouver Island,” Brown said. “Nishad Tarak is another Sr. who really plays an important offensive role on our team.”
Expect this team to play a fast-paced, high-pressure brand of basketball.
“We have been here before and it’s nice to feel comfortable upon arrival. We have prepared for the teams we might see this year and will do our best to execute our game plans,” added Coach Brown.
Hawks’ head coach Rich Ralston says despite the seeding, they haven’t discounted Belmont.
“Anyone can beat anyone at any given time."
Ralston has been coaching at Mouat for 25 years and 20 years with the senior boys. The team’s goal was to make the Final 4 at Provincials, but will take one game at a time.
“You focus on the opponent at hand then worry about the next game when you are done,” Ralston emphasized.
Game 3: 12pm – Terry Fox vs. Van College
The Terry Fox Ravens (12th seed) are locked and loaded to duke it out with the Vancouver College Fighting Irish in their first round of Provincials.
Head coach Brad Petersen is optimistic that his boys will be ready to play the full 40 minutes every single game.
“Our goal is to play our best basketball of our season this week,” he said. “Over the past 9 days, we have practiced extremely hard. These have been some of our best and most competitive practices of the season. We have talked a lot about what we need to do to be successful. We have spent a lot of time together enjoying our final push this season.”
Of course, Vancouver College (5th) won’t go down without a fight. The team recently was crowned champions at the Lower Mainlands, defeating a tough St. George’s Saints team to take home the banner.
The Fighting Irish are likely to play a high calibre level of basketball, just like they’ve been doing all season.
Game 4: 1:45pm - St. George’s vs. Walnut Grove
The St. George’s Saints (7th seed) are set to play the Walnut Grove Gators in what looks as though will be a heated matchup on Day 1.
With 50 years of coaching under his belt, head coach Bill Disbrow has trained the Saints to be top-notch competitors in any level of the tournament.
“We are a true TEAM. We are small; we are not the most athletic, but we are the most together,” Disbrow said of his boys.
The team puts on a great show for both sides of their spectators, so expect a lot of passing and movement on the court.
“We play defending champs Walnut Grove in their backyard as our opening game. It will be very tough,” said Coach. “Both teams are small, so we match up decently.”
As for the Gators, the defending champions of the tournament will have a big reputation to live up to this year.
Grove tends to play very guard-heavy game. And if Gators fans are anything like the crowd they accumulated for the girl’s tournament, expect a lot of noise in the stands.
Game 5: 3:30pm - Handsworth vs. Holy Cross
Hands down, you’ll want to grab some popcorn and get comfy for this matchup.
The Holy Cross Crusaders played the Handsworth Royals at the beginning of the season when they were ranked 1st overall. The Royals beat them in what seemed to be an upset of the year. Fortunately for the Crusaders, they get another crack at them in their first round of Provincials.
Now ranked 14th overall, Holy Cross has more fire in them than ever before to take on the # 4 ranked Handsworth. There won’t be any blowout here.
“All our focus is on [Handsworth] right now,” says coach Matt LeChasseur. “We may have made a few mistakes along the way, but our kids play very hard and fast.”
LeChasseur, a Holy Cross alumni with 10 years of coordinating and coaching experience with the boys’ program, admires the unique bond and development between his players.
“As a coach, each team, we try to get them to the point where the team takes ownership of the team. Holding each other accountable, playing hard for one another. We assist them in guiding to that point, but this year’s team is a group that rallies behind each other and supports one another both on the floor and off.”
The Royals, on the other hand, will likely play the game of their season again against the Crusaders. Back in November, they were able to beat them 69-63 in the opening matchups of the Heritage Woods Kodiak Classic.
Coach Cam Mowat says the boys will rely heavily on their defence in order to keep Holy Cross on their toes.
"Defensive pressure is the name of the game. We pride ourselves in our defence and ability to turn teams over," he said. "We've got a tough bracket, but we're hoping to make a deep run."
Handsworth has only lost one game in all of 2018—so these boys have a taste for winning that seems to be unparalleled.
Expect a fireworks show between the two.
Game 6: 5:15pm Burnaby South vs. Lord Tweedsmuir
If we had to place bets on this game, it’d be pretty hard to decide who’s going to come out on top.
The Burnaby South Rebels (8th seed) are riled up to play some great basketball on both ends of the court. By watching tape, head coach Mike Bell says the team is focused on being who they are and playing team basketball.
“Our first game is against Lord Tweedsmuir, who in our first meeting got the best of us,” said Bell about their opponent. “We collapsed in the 4th giving up a 20 plus lead. We are looking to correct that loss and taking it one game at a time from there.”
The Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers, ranked 9th overall, will have to bring out the big guns in order to take down the revenge-filled Rebels.
Recently, the Panthers were able to defeat both Pinetree and Holy Cross at the Fraser Valley Championships. With fresh W’s on their side, expect a thrilling matchup that will likely be a close one.
Game 7: 6:45pm - North vs. Tamanawis
You may not recognize the North Peace Oscars, but this team has sent both senior girls and senior boys to Provincials this year. Coming in at the 15th spot, the Oscars will have a tough mountain to climb in their first game against the Tamanawis Wildcats.
Travelling all the way from Fort St. John, this will be the second year in a row that the Oscars are set to play in the 4A Provincials.
If you’ve been following the Wildcats at all this season, you may assume that they’ll rip their competition apart.
Probably one of the most sensational players to watch this year is Miguel Tomley, who averages 39 points per game for Tamanawis. Tomley has more than a few MVP titles to boast, as well.
And given Tami is ranked 2nd overall coming into this tournament; it looks as though the Wildcats have quite the advantage over the Oscars.
Head coach Mike McKay has 10 years of experience under him and four years with these boys specifically. He says to expect a team who would love another crack at the Oak Bay Bays, a team they lost to at the Emerald Tournament.
“We will have a difficult road to get there, if we are able to get past North Peace on the first day, we will have a very tough game against the St. George’s/Walnut Grove winner.”
Despite being hit by the flu bug, Coach says the team has prepared for Provincials all season long and will play the only way they know how: to win.
Game 8: 8:15pm - Mount Baker vs. Oak Bay
The final game of the day matches up the Mount Baker Wild (16th seed) versus the Oak Bay Bays (1st seed).
It may be a predictable game when looking at the standings, but don’t count out the Wild when it comes to their vigor to play the game. Travelling all the from Cranbrook, the Wild will need to give it their absolute all in order to defeat the Bays in their first round.
Coach Dean Atwood, who's been coaching since 1985, says his boys are excited to play the Bays and welcome the challenge of their competition.
"We have a lot of speed and agility. What we lack in height we make up for in heart and grit. We have not had the opportunity to see any of our opponents play but we are looking forward to taking on any of our provincial teams," said Atwood.
As for the Bays, this little island team has more drive and passion for the game of basketball than we’ve seen in quite some time. Their players each have a specific role that they conquer on the court.
And with a star shooting guard like Diego Maffia, expect Oak Bay to put up a hefty amount of points early on in the game. Maffia is the epitome of focus and has guided this team to victory more than once over the season.
With a shiny Emerald Tournament and Tsumura Invitational win under them, the Bays know how to stay alive against top teams like Tami and Holy Cross. The only question is, can they do it again?
Written by: Crystal Scuor