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BasketBlog: Live from the Abbotsford Police City Tournament finals
The Abbotsford Police City Basketball Tournament culminates with championship games running all day Saturday at the Columbia Bible College gymnasium. Abbotsford News sports editor Dan Kinvig will be updating this page with post-game recaps throughout the day. For a complete schedule of the day's events, click here.
SENIOR BOYS: Yale 77, Mouat 49
The senior boys final, given its last-game-of-the-day status, is typically the main event on Championship Saturday at the Abbotsford Police City Basketball Tournament.
This year's edition felt somewhat anticlimactic, due to some glaring personnel absences.
The W.J. Mouat Hawks were missing seven players who, according to head coach Rich Ralston, have been suspended by the school after some "poor decision-making" during a trip to Edmonton for a tournament the previous weekend. Ralston declined to go into the specific nature of those poor decisions. The suspended players are crucial to the success of the Hawks, who are ranked No. 4 provincially in the AAAA tier and were ranked No. 1 last week. At this juncture, the News is not publishing their names.
With just nine players from their original 16-player roster available, Mouat still managed to make it to the title game of the city tourney. And despite shooting poorly in the first half vs. Yale, they were still within striking distance at the break, trailing 29-16.
But the Lions, with their collection of long, springy athletes, kicked their fast break into high gear in the third quarter, and expanded the lead to over 30 points in the fourth en route to a dominant 77-49 triumph.
"We really wanted their full roster, but we understand they're going through some things," said Yale coach Euan Roberts. "That doesn't mean we take it easy on them – I don't think they would have wanted us to. We came out, played hard, and they came out, played hard. It was a good win for us, regardless of who they had missing in action."
Indeed, Yale got terrific performances from the likes of Sasha Otanga (29 points), player of the game Patrick Vandervelden (12) and Ashton Kendall (11).
"There were a lot of opportunities for us to lose focus, especially early," Roberts said. "But Sasha Otanga and Jassi Gill kept the boys in line, Paul Baadsvik contributed, big Patrick (Vandervelden, 6'9") is a big difference-maker . . . and Ashton Kendall is a real spark plug for us and played well."
Travis Sidhu paced the Hawks with 16 points, while Jayme Bains (11) and Ben Klammer (eight) also chipped in offensively.
"It was fine for a while," Ralston noted. "You can't let Yale, a more talented team, get into transition. You've got to make them play in the half court, and when you give them layups, you don't have a chance."
As for the Mouat suspensions, Ralston said that they would be brought to a "board of review", as is standard procedure, for final resolution.
"By the time we're back in school in January, things will be more clear," he said.
"I think that there will be some guys that come back, but some guys won't. It's just the nature of the incident. Very poor decision-making . . . the consequences can be dire if you're not being smart."
SENIOR GIRLS: MEI 58, Mouat 56
In a senior girls championship game defined by physical play in the paint, it was fitting that the winning basket was of the ridiculously rugged variety.
With the MEI Eagles and W.J. Mouat Hawks deadlocked at 56-56 and the clock ticking down inside of 20 seconds remaining in regulation, Eagles forward Taylor Claggett hauled in an offensive rebound. Surrounded by Hawks defenders, she rose for a shot, absorbed a bump, and flipped a high-arcing shot in off the glass while falling away from the hoop.
The basket proved the difference in a much-anticipated clash which more than lived up to its billing – Mouat came in No. 4 in the provincial AAA rankings, while MEI was hot on their heels at No. 5.
"A little bit of luck, but that's what you need sometimes," Claggett said of her game-winner. "I didn't have the greatest game, but at the end, I made up for it."
The match-up in the paint between Mouat's 6'2" twin sisters Alicia and Cierra Roufosse and MEI's terrific duo of Claggett and Tessa Ratzlaff was slow to materialize in the first half, as all four players picked up three fouls before halftime and spent extensive time on the bench.
Mouat led 29-25 at the break, and opened the third quarter on a 12-2 run to stretch the lead to 14 points.
But MEI hung tough with player of the game Ratzlaff (23 points) leading the way, and they battled all the way back to take a 56-54 lead with two minutes left in the fourth after Katelyn Punia knocked down a huge three-pointer.
Ceirra Roufosse and Ratzlaff both fouled out shortly thereafter, and Alicia Roufosse hit a pair of free throws to knot the score. That set the stage for Claggett's clutch basket.
The Hawks had a couple of shots to tie or win – Amanda Thompson missed a three-pointer in the waning seconds, and after Mouat stole the ensuing inbounds pass, Alicia Roufosse hoisted a running bank shot. She absorbed a lot of contact, but as with Claggett's basket, the refs swallowed their whistles.
"In the first half, there were too many fouls, so maybe they (the refs) made an adjustment too – I don't know," MEI coach Rick Thiessen said. "But I'll take it."
"The refs called a lot of fouls, and there could have been more," reasoned Claggett, who scored 15 points. "But that's just the way it goes. You've got to muscle up and go with it. Both teams are just so strong in the post, so it was a good match-up.
"(Winning the city tourney) is one of the greatest feelings ever – we've been city rivals since Grade 8."
The Roufosse sisters both scored in double figures for Mouat – Cierra had 14 points, while Alicia had 13 and was named her team's player of the game. Alicia Unruh tied for team-high scoring honours with 14 points.
JUNIOR BOYS: Mouat 56, Yale 49
Every time the W.J. Mouat Hawks seemed poised to run away with the junior boys city title, the gritty Yale Lions reeled them back in.
But down the stretch, Jass Singh just wouldn't let the Hawks lose.
After Yale trimmed Mouat's 14-point third-quarter lead down to four with just over two minutes remaining in regulation, Singh responded by swishing a three-pointer, drawing a charge on defence, and knocking down two free throws as Mouat prevailed 56-49.
"He sets the tone for our team," Mouat coach Chia Ashton said of Singh, who racked up 26 points.
"Jass has grown up a lot over the years. Before, he was just a shooter – now, he's learning how to become a complete player. He's got a bright future ahead of him. I love his heart, I love how hard he works."
Mouat seemed on the verge of a blowout on a couple of occasions – they led by as many as 13 points in the second quarter, and after the Lions trimmed it to five at the half, they stretched the margin back to 14 in the third.
But Yale hung tough, led by centre Mike Vanderwerff (17 points) and point guard Matt Kerc-Murchison (15 points). Vanderwerff earned the player of the game nod for his team.
"You've got to give them credit – they adjusted to some of the things we did, and they just kept battling," Ashton said, lauding the Lions. "It's going to be a good battle all year. We're going to have fun playing them, and they're going to have fun playing us."
Mouat also got nine points from Joel Klammer and eight from point guard Max Borseth, who picked up player of the game honours.
JUNIOR GIRLS: Yale 46, Mouat 36
Just two weeks ago, the W.J. Mouat Hawks junior girls thumped the Yale Lions by 20 points during league play.
But in the city final, the Lions proved emphatically that they've grown by leaps and bounds since then, racing out to a huge first-quarter lead en route to the upset win.
"They got every loose ball, they got every rebound the last time we played," Yale coach Mike Ivany said.
"The first half today was probably the best basketball we've played this year, which is very encouraging. It was good to see us put it together, because we know we have a talented group, and we just hadn't seen it in a game this year."
The Lions were the aggressors early, building a 20-4 lead with four minutes left in the second quarter. The Hawks found some traction at that point, but still trailed 25-12 at the break.
Yale stretched the lead to 17 points in the fourth quarter, but Mouat reeled off a quick 7-0 run and got to within seven points at 38-31 on a Victoria Jacobse scoop shot with 1:57 remaining.
But the Lions, after a timeout, calmly broke the Hawks' press and the outcome was never really in doubt.
"We've had a real challenge the last couple games starting the game well," Ivany said. "We just really wanted to focus on getting a good start and matching their aggressiveness.
"Mouat's always been a huge rivalry for us," he added. "(The players) play together a great deal outside of high school season in club, so I think it means a lot for our girls to finally beat this team. Because usually, they get the better of us."
Yale got a huge 20-point performance from player of the game Jade Bird, while Maya Chinna (nine points) and Sehlah Pankratz (eight) also chipped in offensively. Karanveer Rai, Mouat's player of the game, got all nine of her points in the fourth quarter, and Jacobse scored eight.
GRADE 8 BOYS: Fraser 43, MEI 41
After combining to hoist enough bricks to build a house over the first three quarters, the MEI Eagles and W.A. Fraser Falcons heated up in time to provide fans with an electric finish.
Stepping into starring roles were point guards Noah Nickel of the Eagles and Bradley Braich of the Falcons, who engaged in a terrific fourth-quarter duel.
MEI trailed 26-19 early in the final frame, but Nickel scored a flurry of baskets and assisted on Isaiah Reimer's fast-break layup which knotted the score 33-33. Nickel's backcourt mate Luke Chalk then went to work, swishing a three-pointer and knocking down a pair of free throws to give the Eagles a 39-37 lead.
But Braich, who scored all 10 of his points in the fourth quarter, had the last word – he drained a teardrop runner and a three-pointer to give his team a 42-39 advantage with less than a minute left.
Nickel got into the paint and scored to cut the Falcons' lead to one, but Fraser hung on through a turnover-riddled finish.
"For a while, we were really scared and we didn't want to make mistakes," Braich said afterward, reflecting on his team's initial reaction to MEI's fourth-quarter rally. "I think they kind of needed me (to be aggressive). I wasn't showing up in the first half, but I kind of got into it in the later minutes of the game."
Falcons coach Bobby Braich, Bradley's dad, suggested that the two point guards might be the best in their age group at their position in the province. They also happen to be close friends.
"We've played baseball together for four years, won provincial championships, and I go over to his house at least once a month," Bradley Braich explained.
"It's kind of weird (playing each other in basketball). It's like, we're best friends, and then we're enemies. I don't know how to describe it. He usually beats me, and this is the first time I've ever beaten him, so it feels good."
The Falcons also got 11 points from Michael Plenits and five from player of the game Matty Konrad. Nickel, MEI's player of the game, paced his team with nine points, while Jordan York (seven points) and Travis Veerman (six) also chipped in.
GRADE 8 GIRLS: MEI 35, Fraser 30
If you're looking for a reason why Abbotsford high school basketball is so strong at the senior girls level, look no further than the fertile Grade 8 scene.
The MEI Eagles and and the W.A. Fraser Falcons put on a gritty, entertaining show in the city tourney final, trading dramatic runs.
The Eagles built a 15-10 lead after the first quarter behind a withering full-court press, but the Falcons started solving it with regularity and battled back to tie it up 18-18 at the half.
Fraser continued to surge after the break, and led 30-24 after a Brianna Utas basket early in the fourth quarter.
But those were the last points they'd score – MEI went back to the press and squeezed some more mileage out of it, ending the game on an 11-0 run.
The Eagles' diminutive backcourt of Teagan Boughen and Sierra Joiner led the comeback – Boughen tied the game 30-30 with a sweet spinning layup, and Joiner notched the go-ahead basket on a drive while absorbing a foul.
"They did a really good job," MEI coach Lisa Gossen acknowledged. "They bring a lot of energy, they work so hard, and they find their way into every little hole."
Boughen paced the Eagles with nine points, while Joiner and Emma Gamache notched six points apiece.
Joiner and Utas, who scored a game-high 11 points, were their respective teams' players of the game.
GRADE 9 BOYS: Hansen 50, Mouat 41
As the Rick Hansen Hurricanes spilled onto the court at the final buzzer to celebrate winning the inaugural Grade 9 boys title at the Abby city tourney, the widest smile belonged to Josh Dhillon.
Two days prior during round-robin action, Dhillon had missed a fourth-quarter buzzer-beater that would have lifted his team to a victory over the W.J. Mouat Hawks. Mouat escaped with a 55-54 win.
On Saturday, Dhillon and his teammates redeemed themselves in a rematch with the Hawks in the finals, maintaining a lead in the neighbourhood of 10 points throughout the second half. No buzzer-beater was required in their 50-41 triumph.
"I pulled up from the free throw line, and I missed by a lot to the right," Dhillon said, reflecting on the nail-biting end of the round-robin game between the two teams. "That hurt us. We were winning the whole game, 38 minutes and 50 seconds.
"It hurt inside, but now it's fine," he added. "This game, I think we had more intensity. We came out like we were going to get revenge, that we're not going to let them beat us."
Aman Dhillon (19 points) and Bobby Narang (16) paced the Hansen offence in the final, while Rohit Sharma picked up player of the game honours. Mouat player of the game Jagvir Malhi racked up 14 points, while Kenan Hadzovic chipped in with seven.