Maybe even more than the championship final, the third place game is perhaps the toughest game to play in at the provincial championship. After the disappointment of the day before, it can be tough for a team to refocus on the task at hand.
That’s why it was so impressive to see the North Delta Huskies defeat the Pitt Meadows Marauders 69-52. North Delta came out with a purpose, played to their strengths, and never really looked back.
“I’m so proud of these guys, because last was devastating” said North Delta assistant coach Gary Sandhu afterwards. “We had Byrne Creek for three quarters but just couldn’t contain them, they have so many weapons. It was really, really hard to get these guys to start looking about the next game.
I wasn’t concerned, but I was thinking about how our guys were going to come out and react.”
Both teams started to play to their strengths from the beginning. Pitt Meadows worked the ball inside, feeding the ball to Colton Leon and Giovanni Manu. North Delta used their shooting advantage to knock down shots from all over the floor. The Marauders were also not helped when starting guard Ross Power got into foul trouble early, forcing him to sit out most of the first half.
The Huskies started the second on a 14-6 run, helped by a deep Arun Atker three. Leon did his best to get Pitt back into it, beating a triple team near the rim to get two. But a Suraj Gahir coast to coast basket seemed to sum up the first half for North Delta. They led by 13 after the first half.
They would extend that lead even further in the third quarter, as North Delta outscored Pitt Meadows 32-13 in the quarter. Most of it was to their guards, especially the play of Gahir — the Marauders simply couldn’t handle the speed at which they would move down the court and attack the basket.
And although Gio Manu gave his team a sliver of hope with a three point play to start the fourth, North Delta effectively closed the game out after that with even better shooting. They finished over 50% in the second half, with players such as Jagraj Johal making big shots to solidify the win.
Suraj Gahir had another great game, finishing with 18 points and 11 boards. For his efforts, he was named player of the game. Only in grade 11, Sandhu is excited for what he can bring in his senior year.
“We’re excited” said Sandhu on his guard’s future. “ We have a few things we have to work on, we gotta get a little bit stronger, we got to get a little bit quicker, but I’m really looking forward to seeing what this guy can do.”
With an impressive tournament in 2018, North Delta will surely be considered one of the favourites in 2019 to take the AAA title.
Written by: Nick Bondi