The South Kamloops Titans don’t make it easy on themselves.
In yet another close game they beat the Pitt Meadows Marauders 65-59, punching their ticket to the final for a second straight year.
The question becomes, is it better to play close games to get yourself prepared for an intense final, or coast through without any problems or bumps along the road.
“It would have been nice to get our stars a little more rest” said Kamloops coach Bryce McMillan when asked this question. “It is what it is. We’re in great shape, and I have no worries about the final. It’s the final of provincials, they’re going to be ready for it.”
South Kamloops executed their game plan from the start, using their speed at the guard position to drive to the basket and set up three point opportunities as both Jumaga and Sarai hit deep threes. It was 19-8 after one, and in the second it was more of the same. Ripley Martin effectively shut down Giovanni Manu, limiting him to just 10 points and forced turnovers in the Pitt backcourt. South Kamloops led 31-21 after the first half, with a trip to the final on the line.
The second half however saw Kamloops revert to their poor shooting selves once again. They shot only 27% from the floor in the half and allowed Pitt to get back into it. The result was a 12-5 run, with much of the work done by the two bigs of Manu and Colton Leon.
It all set up for a dramatic fourth quarter where the lead seemed to change with every shot made. Manu managed to tie it at the line, before Kamloops Sam Jean took the lead back with the three. Pitt’s Benjamin Pollard made it 52-49 for his team, and once Kamloops guard Reid Jansen fouled out it appeared as though they could actually pull off the upset.
Just moments later came the turning point. Evan Jumaga hit a corner three for Kamloops, followed buy a Sam Jean steal and score. That five point swing proved decisive, as the Titans were able to hold on to win despite some late Pitt pressure.
“It’s just the way it worked out” said McMillan after the game. “We were lucky to hit the shot, we finally hit one from three, and then the steal was just a good heads up play.”
Nick Sarai had 19 points for Kamloops, while Evan Jumaga had 18 points — all of them three pointers. For Pitt Meadows, Giovanni Manu had 24 points and nine rebounds in the loss.
South Kamloops will either play the Byrne Creek Bulldogs or the North Delta Huskies. Stay tuned for our preview of the final.
Written By: Nick Bondi