When the top two ranked teams meet in a final, one of two things is liable to happen.
One — it will produce an absolute classic, or two — it will fail to live up to the high expectations fans put upon it.
Well, the final between the North Delta Huskies and the Sir Charles Tupper Tigers at the 2019 Chancellor tournament certainly fell into the first category. At least, if you’re a fan of the Huskies. They clinched the title on back of a strong second half performance, winning 78-63.
“We knew that they had the shooters” said the victorious coach, Jesse Hundal of North Delta on the game plan heading into the final. “Gaurab [Acharya] and Norbert [Bulosan], they’re dynamic. The goal was to shade up on them, keep a hand in their face, and just execute. Do what we do that makes us successful. Tough defense, prepare better than anybody, and just come out with some fire.”
The Huskies did exactly that, taking the ball inside at nearly every opportunity they had in the early going. North Delta was up by 15 at one points, before a couple of three’s before the buzzer sounded made it just a six point game at the half. Despite them playing pretty well for most of the half, the game was in danger of slipping away.
“Same thing like Byrne Creek yesterday when they hit the half court buzzer beater” explained Hundal, in reference to a shot from beyond half hit by the Bulldogs Bithow Wan at the end of the third that sent the crowd into a frenzy (seriously, check out our Instagram page if you don’t believe us). “Focus, it’s a new half, it’s zero-zero, we’ve been through this before.
There are ups and downs in the game. We focused on one stop, one score, one possession, the 30 seconds.”
They did exactly that in the 3rd quarter. North Delta proceeded to go on a 15-2 run to start the frame, and limiting the Tigers to just seven points in the 3rd. And although Tupper played much better in the 4th, it proved too late to dig out of the hole that they were in.
Suraj Gahir had 29 points in his team’s dub, and won tournament MVP honours. Teammates Arun Atker and Ryan Cabico were named to the first time, while Tupper’s Bulosan and Acharya were named to the first team as well.
For North Delta, it’s their second straight tournament victory after winning the Rod Thomson Memorial Classic tournament back in December. They’ve surely established themselves as the team to beat in AAA, and Hundal insists the focus even now is all on the tournament in March at the LEC.
“It’s great that we’ve won these tournaments” he said emphatically, holding the first place trophy in one hand. “It’s a good building block for our guys, it’s good for our program, for our community. But March is what we’ve gearing everything up for.
I think we’re ready. I think we’re mentally prepared and most importantly, we’re executing when it matters. Give credit to all of our guys. When the games are pressure packed and the stakes are high, they deliver more often than not.”
Written by: Nick Bondi