The Walnut Grove Gators are peaking at just the right time.
The Gators won their 17th consecutive game when they clobbered the White Rock Christian Academy Warriors 65-46 on Tuesday night at Walnut Grove Secondary.
The win advanced the team to the semifinals of the Fraser Valley AAA senior boys’ basketball championships, where they will face the W.J. Mouat Hawks on Friday (March 4) at Thomas Haney Secondary.
But more importantly, with a guaranteed top-four finish in the ultra-competitive Fraser Valley zone, the Gators, who are 25-6 on the season, are assured of one of the Valley’s eight seeds for the provincial championships later this month at the Langley Events Centre.
As has been the case all season long, the Gators — ranked ninth in the province heading into the post-season — were led by their defence.
“Our defence has been great,” said guard Jack Tsai, one of eight Grade 12s on the team.
“We have been keeping teams below (60) points.”
As for the run the team has been on, Tsai didn’t put much stock into it.
“We don’t look at our record,” he said. “We play, and if we win, great, and if something is wrong, we will work on it.”
In Tuesday’s game, the Gators led from start to finish and in the second half — despite an 8-0 Warriors run to open — Walnut Grove never let the score get within 10 points.
But after that, the Gators closed the quarter on a 17-3 run and the result was never in doubt.
The Gators offence managed just six points in the fourth quarter, but still won by 19.
“I thought defensively we played extremely hard core, in-your-face defence,” said Gators coach George Bergen.
“We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, but our defence led to offensive opportunities.”
Larry Blyth led the offence with 17 points, while Derek Muxworthy had 13.
Paul Getz pulled down 10 rebounds.
De’sean Monsanto chipped in with 11 points, and his play at the defensive end got Bergen’s attention.
“He took White Rock Christian’s best player and did a number on him offensively; he kept him to four points,” Bergen said about the Warriors’ Jake Newman.
At the start of the season, Tsai would not have predicted the Gators would have qualified so quickly, especially after a slow start to the season.
The team had to fight just to make provincials as the sixth seed out of the Valley.
“It is great to have our spot,” Tsai said. “Last year, every game was do-or-die.”
The Gators know they are in tough in the Fraser Valley final four, with Terry Fox, ranked fifth in the province, and Heritage Woods, ranked tenth, in one semifinal.
The Hawks, while not ranked, have had an up-and-down season, but are extremely talented, Bergen said.
During the Fraser Valley East playoffs, Walnut Grove managed a narrow 67-63 win in the semifinals.
“Every time we play a tough team, it helps,” Tsai said. “We know we can play with them.”
Game over for Bobcats
The Brookswood Bobcats season came to an end on Tuesday night.
Facing a do-or-die game last Friday, the Bobcats pulled out a 60-58 win over Sullivan Heights.
But the ’Cats, seeded 13th out of the 32 teams, lost 80-60 to No. 4 Tamanawis and 67-51 to No. 5 Fleetwood Park.