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BasketBlog: Live from the 2014 Snowball final
The Snowball Classic senior boys basketball tourney at Abbotsford Senior culminates with the gold medal game on Saturday evening. Abbotsford News sports editor Dan Kinvig will be posting live updates to this page throughout the game.
10:25 p.m. – Well, that's it for the BasketBlog for another year, unless it makes a comeback at a provincial championship tournament in March. We'll see.
Kudos to Prentice Lenz and the crew at Abby Senior for another terrific Snowball tourney, and a tip of the cap to the Henry Carr Crusaders and Sardis Falcons for putting on an entertaining show tonight.
10:20 p.m. – The last word goes to the always-eloquent Sardis Falcons coach Kyle Graves, who has been a great quote dating back to his playing days with the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades.
• General thoughts on his team's performance: "We have a lot of skill on our team and we've got a lot of guys who have played in big games, but the one thing I've been worried about throughout their careers is, do they work hard enough and do they have that intensity? And I think the fans, the players themselves and I learned that they do have it now, after that game. We do have a legitimate shot to win a provincial championship, because of that hard work and intensity."
• On the value of facing a tough defensive team like the Crusaders: "We told (the players) in the locker room to remember that feeling out on the court. No matter what team we play, whether it's a low-ranked team or a high-ranked team, we're going to play at that level, no matter what they bring."
• On what he was most proud of: "I thought we played bad, as far as making layups and turnovers – it could have easily been a five-point game down the stretch if we'd made some of those layups and (cut down on) turnovers. But the biggest thing I was proud of was holding them under 80 points, because every other team had given them 100. We really made them work for everything they got."
10:10 p.m. – Because it's getting late and this is a blog, I'm going to present the coaches' comments in point-form Q&A style.
First up, coach of the Snowball champion Henry Carr Crusaders, Paul Melnik.
• On how his team's defence wears opponents down: "We're lucky to be deep and athletic and quick, so we play that style of defence. The whole idea is, it might not get you in the first quarter, it might not get you in the second quarter. It might not even get you in the third quarter, but it's going to get you at some point. We kind of play to our strengths, which is our quickness, our athleticism, our length. That's kind of what you saw today."
• On the Sardis Falcons: "They're a very good team. They battle, they work really hard, they shoot the ball really well, they're disciplined, they're well coached. They're just not as deep as us. They might just be one or two players short of making a real run at us. But you know what, we don't want to get into a close game with them, because they make big shots and they make great decisions. They're really poised in their basketball sense."
• On his team's first trip to the Snowball: "The hospitality is second to none. Everything is positive. The people are great, the facilities, the food, the officials, everything. Everyone is so nice. It's nice to come and win, but it's also nice to come and be treated very, very well. They make you feel like you're really wanted."
9:50 p.m. – Here are your 2014 Snowball all-stars.
Second teamers are Luke Tompkins of the host Abby Senior Panthers; W.J. Mouat Hawks point guard Corey Hauck; Elijah Campbell-Axson of Vancouver College; and Buster Truss of Kelowna.
The first all-star team features Anthony McNish and Ty Stewart-Nelson of the Henry Carr Crusaders, along with Sardis's big three of Eric Rogers, Hayden Lejeune and Cam Servatius.
Crusaders sharpshooter Marcus Bonnick is tourney MVP, while Yale Lions swingman Sasha Otanga picked up the "Best of Abbotsford" award – which honours the top local performance – after leading his team to a third-place finish.
In the title game, Bonnick racked up 21 points while McNish chipped in with 17. Rogers matched Bonnick for game-high scoring honours with 21, while Lejeune notched 13.
9:30 p.m. – The Father Henry Carr Crusaders are champions of the 54th annual Snowball Classic, dispatching the Sardis Falcons 74-55. More to come.
9:19 p.m. – Sardis is making a run, but it might be too little, too late. They've cut the deficit to 66-52 with 4:35 left in the fourth quarter. Eric Rogers deserves a lot of credit for keeping the Falcons in this game – he's played with a ton of heart.
And just now, Sardis's Cam Servatius made his presence felt, getting back in transition to swat a Ty Stewart-Nelson layup attempt.
9:05 p.m. – Lost in all the dunking and defence is the fact that the Crusaders are shooting pretty well from long-range. The most dangerous of their crew on the perimeter is senior guard Marcus Bonnick, who just swished a couple treys in quick succession.
Henry Carr leads 63-40 at the end of the third quarter, and the only bit of bad news for the Crusaders is that Anthony McNish picked up his fourth foul late in the frame.
8:56 p.m. – "That just happened." Thus spoke the announcer following another ridiculous highlight-reel play from the Crusaders, as point guard Ty Stewart-Nelson just hit Anthony McNish for a massive two-handed alley-oop dunk.
The real story, of course, it the Carr defence, which has helped boost the lead to 53-33 with five minutes left in the third quarter.
8:38 p.m. – Father Henry Carr had the lead up as high as 15 points in the second quarter, and they're up 39-26 at the break. Anthony McNish, he of the rim-rocking dunk, leads all scorers with 13 points, and his teammates Grant Audu and Marcus Bonnick have seven apiece.
After missing a couple layups in a row, Sardis forward Eric Rogers got a couple to fall late in the half, including one really nice finish while absorbing a foul. He leads the Falcons with 12 points, while Hayden Lejeune and Cam Servatius have six points each.
The Crusaders' 1-2-2 trapping zone press is downright predatory, but I've also been awfully impressed with how hard they're competing on the glass against Lejeune. No official rebounding stats are available, but I'd have to say they're winning that battle right now.
8:31 p.m. – This game would be a lot closer if Sardis were shooting a little more proficiently from point-blank range. They've bricked at least four layups so far, and Eric Rogers just missed a couple on back-to-back possessions. The Crusaders lead 30-20 with 3:30 left in the second quarter.
8:22 p.m. – Anything you can do, I can do better. Anthony McNish, Henry Carr's ridiculously athletic Grade 10 forward, just threw down a massive one-hander with Sardis guard Evan Kellington unfortunately in the vicinity. Wow.
And then just a moment ago, Grant Audu – the Crusaders' other Grade 10 phenom – hammered down a fast-break slam of his own.
It's 27-16 for Carr, and Sardis coach Kyle Graves just got in one of the refs' face to complain that Crusaders point guard Kyle LeFave is talking trash. This game is starting to get pretty fun.
8:19 p.m. – Just when it looked like Sardis was staggering, they got a nice little adrenaline boost from Hayden Lejeune at the end of the first quarter. He out on a breakaway with the clock ticking down, and barely beat the buzzer with a huge two-handed throwdown – which the crowd obviously loved. It's 19-14 for Henry Carr at the end of the first Q.
8:15 p.m. – And just like that, the Crusaders flip the script, reeling off a 12-0 run to grab a 19-12 lead with one minute left in the first quarter.
Carr simply ratcheted things up defensively, coming up with a pair of steals that led to fast-break layups and also forcing the Falcons to take a five-second call on an inbounds play under their own basket. Sardis had better get up to speed in a hurry.
8:12 p.m. – The interesting thing about this match-up is that for all their athleticism and defensive intensity, the Crusaders don't have anyone taller than 6'5" on the roster. Sardis, meanwhile, has a stud at centre in 6'7" Hayden Lejeune. How Carr deals with Lejeune will be mighty interesting.
Lejeune has already gotten inside for one bucket, but it's Eric Rogers, the Falcons' 6'4" forward, who's doing much of the damage early. He's scored six points in a row, showcasing a nice post game and a deft hook shot, as Sardis leads 12-7 early.
7:52 p.m. – Before we get into the final, a bit of catch-up. In the game just prior, the Yale Lions clinched the bronze medal with a gritty 71-68 win over Burnaby South. Patrick Vandervelden, Yale's lanky 6'9" centre, is best known for his shot-blocking, but he led his team with 24 points. Sasha Otanga (20 points) and player of the game Jassi Gill (11 points) also turned in outstanding performances for the Lions.
Jermaine Haley, Burnaby South's phenomenal 6'5" Grade 11 point guard, missed his team's opening game of the tourney due to hip flexor injuries, but he played through it to pour in 21 points in a losing effort vs. Yale. Martin Bogajev chipped in with 13 points for the Rebels.
One quick selfish plug – if you have any interest in checking out my 13-hour marathon blog post from Thursday's Snowball action, that can be found right here.
7:45 p.m. – We're roughly 15 minutes away from tip-off of the Snowball Classic championship game. I'm really excited about the match-up, which features the Father Henry Carr Crusaders of Etobicoke, Ont. vs. the Sardis Falcons, who are trying to defend B.C.'s honour here tonight.
The Crusaders have lived up to their advance billing, which is lofty indeed – they're ranked No. 2 among high school teams in Canada according to North Pole Hoops.
Sardis is No. 8 in B.C., and they've looked absolutely terrific en route to the final, with high-quality wins over the host Abby Senior Panthers and the Yale Lions.
The gym is near capacity with more on their way in. It's gonna be a beauty.