With 16 teams starting and only five berths into the provincials, the Fraser Valley Tournament is under way in senior boys triple A basketball.
Action begins this week at G.W. Graham in Chilliwack and Clayton Heights in Surrey, with the tournament continuing into next week.
The surprising Thomas Haney Thunder and always solid Pitt Meadows Marauders are the top schools from School District 42, and they finished third and fourth respectively in the Fraser Valley East with identical 6-3 win-loss records. The Thunder finish third by virtue of having beaten the Marauders in head-to-head play, by a score of 82-75 in late January.
The Westview Wildcats finished seventh at 4-5, after some late-season dramatics, and Maple Ridge secondary got the last playoff spot with a record of 3-6.
The Wildcats got their two biggest wins of the season recently, defeating the SRT Titans 59-36 on Feb. 9, and then the provincially ranked Rick Hansen Hurricanes in exciting fashion, 74-73 on Feb. 14.
Mats Linden scored 23 points against the Titans, and Owen Swan came up with defensive stops and key offensive rebounds. That win clinched a berth in the prestigious Fraser Valley Championships for the second straight year.
The Wildcats jumped on the seventh-ranked Hurricanes as Linden and Kaden Reid hit a combined five three pointers in the first quarter to help the Wildcats to their best start of the season. To end a great quarter, six-foot-six Grade 10 Bishop MacGilchrist hit a shot from the half court to give Westview a 30-18 lead. They went into half-time up eight.
In the second half the veteran Hurricanes made adjustments and the game went back and fortn. In the final five seconds Hansen had the ball with the Wildcats up by one point, 74-73. Linden and Reid, the leading scorers in the game with 22 and 20 points respectively, played game-saving defence on the last Hurrican possession to seal the victory.
The schedule is set for this week. On Thursday in Chillwack, third-place Thomas Haney takes on the West’s sixth place Frank Hurt (3-5) . Seventh-place Westview faces the North Delta Huskies, who finished second in the west with a record of 7-1 and are ranked third in B.C.
At Clayton Heights, Pitt Meadows has drawn fifth-place L.A. Matheson (3-4), and the West’s first place Nightriders, 8-0, ranked eighth in B.C. and the hosts, will entertain the eight-place Maple Ridge Ramblers.
Action is scheduled for Friday at both schools, then four days of games are scheduled for Feb. 26 to March 1 at Clayton Heights, culiminating in the final next Friday at 8 p.m.