Vanier’s senior boys basketball team stole a first-place finish over the host side at the North Island triple-A tournament, Feb. 15-17 at Mark Isfeld Secondary. Isfeld is ranked number seven in B.C. while Vanier is an honorable mention in the triple-A rankings.
As the top two seeds, both teams are heading into a possible rubber match this weekend at the Island championships at John Barsby in Nanaimo. Isfeld beat Vanier in a December league game.
Vanier faced Barsby in a semi-final game Saturday. After losing their last league game against this tough opponent, Vanier needed to step up and impose their will on the athletic group. A close game throughout, Vanier tried to contain all-stars Zach Taylor and Ethan Hart the entire game. Foul trouble plagued the Towhees in the second half, but their bench came out and solidified the win in the late stages with tough baskets by Justin Watt and Brayden Waugh, along with key free throws by Peter Greaves. Jakob Tortorelli led the scoring with 23 points and six rebounds. Greaves had 16 points, nine rebounds, five blocked shots and four assists. Cam Bell added a tough 10 points and nine rebounds, and Waugh added eight points and nine rebounds. Final score: Towhees 68, Barsby 63.
Vanier started strong in the final, hitting most shots to go up by 15 by mid-second quarter. Then both teams started to get into foul trouble, and bench players had to step up. Isfeld hit a couple of threes and some big foul shots. Vanier led 40-37 at the half.
Eventually, the game was determined by who could keep more starters on the floor. Thaskani Mtawali of Isfeld showed his usual wizardry, and Aidan McDonald hit his patented three-point shot to keep the game close. Vanier’s size paid off in the end, and hitting big free throws down the stretch iced it. Vanier won 77-71. Five Towhees were in double-figure scoring: Greaves 24, Tortorelli 14, Sidney Woodrow 12, Macyn Leopkey-Johnson 11 and Bell 10. There were not many rebounds in this game since both teams shot well.