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Gators run out of upsets in final
In the end, the Walnut Grove Gators came one upset short of a championship.
The junior boys basketball team was competing at the Fraser Valley championships, and after knocking off the fourth, fifth and top seeds, came up on the wrong end of a 42-39 score to No. 3 Panorama Ridge on Saturday night at Abbotsford’s MEI Secondary.
Walnut Grove finished second at the Langley District championships on Feb. 6, losing 41-33 to the Langley Christian Lightning. And that loss — which came with the Gators battling a team-wide flu — cost them as they were seeded 13th for the Fraser Valley championships.
But fully healthy, the Gators showed they were worthy of a higher seed.
They opened the tournament with a 68-49 win over Sullivan Heights and then edged No. 4 Fleetwood Park 46-43 to make the main draw of the Fraser Valleys.
In the quarter-finals, Walnut Grove beat No. 5 Yale 72-63 to earn a date with top-seed W.J. Mouat in the semifinals.
The Gators found themselves trailing by 10 points with four minutes to go, but Daniel Stead poured in a dozen points over a two-minute span to force overtime. And after Mouat hit a three-pointer to force double overtime, Walnut Grove took control in the second overtime period to win 65-57.
Again the team fell behind at half versus Panorama Ridge, but were able to cut a 10-point deficit at the break down to a single point. That was as close as they could get, however, falling by three points.
“We just came up short,” said Walnut Grove coach Jon Fast.
“We played a really tough team and we fought back.
“We kept stopping them, and we had our chances (to take the lead) and just couldn’t put it away.”
The team did still qualify for the B.C. provincial basketball championships, which get underway tomorrow (Wednesday) and run until Saturday. Both the junior boys and junior girls provincials are running concurrently at the Langley Events Centre.
No local teams qualified on the junior girls side.
Walnut Grove is seeded third for the tournament and they open play against Duchess Park on Feb. 26 at 1 p.m.
“We knew we could make it here,” Fast said.
His team has just four losses on the season.
The Gators’ Ethan Kano-McGregor picked up the team’s lone all-star award at Fraser Valleys.
Zachary Vanderploeg earned all-star honours as the Credo Christian Kodiaks placed fourth at the Fraser Valley championships.
The Kodiaks lost 81-78 to Maple Ridge Christian in the bronze medal at the Single-A Fraser Valley senior boys basketball championships at Abbotsford Christian.
The loss was costly as the top three teams advanced to the B.C. provincial championships next week at the Langley Events Centre.
The Kodiaks were the second seed for the eight-team tournament, but after beating Agassiz 84-32 in the quarter-finals, they lost 52-41 to No. 3 Unity Christian in the semifinals. Credo then defeated the host Abbotsford Christian Knights 51-50 to advance to the third-place game.
At the Double-A senior boys Fraser Valley basketball championships, Langley Christian Lightning’s Travis Muller earned a second-team all-star award.
The Lightning went 1-2 at the tournament, beating Surrey Christian 76-71 in their first game but closing with losses to G.W. Graham 95-80 and St. John Brebeuf 77-56.
The tournament was hosted at Chilliwack’s G.W. Graham.
D.W. Poppy also made the championship round as they knocked off Langley Fundamental 66-38 in a qualifier game on Feb. 15.
But the Redhawks went 0-2, losing 72-55 to Delview and 78-47 to Archbishop Carney.