What a day it was in the 3A Boys tournament! Every single game came right down to the wire, and we even had the number one seed knocked out. Here's what you missed if you weren't able to make it out.
AR MacNeill vs Argyle
The A.R. MacNeill Ravens bent but did not break in this one, coming back from a halftime hole to beat the Argyle Pipers 77-68 and punch their ticket to the semi-final.
“We just told them to stay with it” said McNeill’s head coach Steward Siy afterwards on his team’s struggles in the first half. “Sky [Tan] missed his first five shots but he’s a great shooter for us. He hit a couple and then they went to a box and one. We thought we were going to see that so we practiced for it earlier in the week. We got some great looks because of it.”
The underdog Argyle Pipers got out to an early 11 point lead, thanks to some wet threes from guard Gerial Larosa. The Pipers had the advantage rebounding early, but after that turnovers saw them give away part of the lead — MacNeill was able to get a ton of points off the fast break near the end of the second.
With Argyle leading by one heading into the final half, MacNeill took a 41-36 lead before Argyle tied it up once again at 41. A late run saw the Ravens lead by five at the beginning of the fourth, where things got really tense. A corner three from senior Sky Tan followed by an uncontested layup by Usman Tung got them their first double digit lead of the game.
Larosa would answer with a deep three of his own, and two big plays from Argyle’s David Finch would get them to within five. But after that, they were forced to foul late in the game which meant McNeill racked up the points late.
Usman Tang had 30 points and 8 rebounds in his team’s victory. Teammate Sky Tan had 20 points, while Argyle’s David Finch had a game high 31 points and 12 rebounds.
Vernon vs Rick Hansen
An upset was on the cards late in the game. The Rick Hansen Hurricanes were up by as much as seven in the fourth quarter before the Vernon Panthers showed why they were the second ranked AAA team for much of the season, coming back to win 66-57.
“Just playing how we play” said Vernon’s Kevin Morgan on message with the team before the comeback. “We were missing shots inside but they started to fall and we started to hit threes which was really nice."
The game was back and forth to start, with both teams trading buckets with frequency. With the Panthers up by 5 heading into the second half, Rick Hansen implemented a 2-3 zone that seem to stymie Vernon — for a time. They trailed by three heading into the fourth before they broke the zone and won the game.
Vernon will play A.R. MacNeill tomorrow in the semi-final.
North Delta vs Sir Charles Tupper
The legend of Suraj Gahir continues to grow.
Playing on essentially one leg after suffering an injury in the Fraser Valley tournament, he’s had to turn from a big scorer into an assist man, putting his trust in his teammates first and foremost.
It could be a big ask for a player used to putting up massive point totals. But he did just that in this game, leading his team to a 74-67 victory and the biggest upset — at least on paper — of the AAA tournament to date.
“I’ve noticed that every team has been face guarding me and focusing on me” said Gahir after the victory on his new style of play. “I trust all my teammates and coaches and I’ve done that since the start of the year."
The Huskies got to a 21 point lead in the first half at one point, hitting big shots from three and letting the likes of Vikram Hayer work inside. The zone that the Huskies used on Tupper seemed to neutralize their vaunted shooting prowess, as the Tigers only shot 15% from three in the first half.
The Tigers actually outscored the Huskies by 10 points in the second half thanks to shooting 50% from three, but the lead built up by North Delta in the first proved too much to overcome.
“[Tupper] and Byrne Creek always bring out the best in us” said North Delta head coach Jesse Hundal. “We talked about it and number one and nine, at the end of the day they’re just numbers. “We have one heart beat and the fist in stronger than the finger.
In a fight you hit first, you hit hard and you hit often. Any time you’re in a fight, you’ve got a chance to win.”
Gahir finished with a triple-double of 19 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists. Tupper’s Simon Crossfield had 17 points, while Arun Atker had 13 points.