WRCA Warriors knock off Tamanawis in Southwest final
After a rocky few weeks in which they dropped games to conference rivals, the White Rock Christian Academy Warriors returned to form Friday, defeating to Tamanawis Wildcats by a single basket in the finals of the Fraser Valley Southwest tournament.
WRCA, seeded third, upset the No. 1 Wildcats – who are ranked third in the province – 60-58 at Tamanawis Secondary Friday night, by way of a second-half comeback.
“We finally put it all together. In the second half, we executed, made some shots, and were able to get the win,” said WRCA coach John Dykstra. “Beating Tamanawis in their gym, in front of their fans, is pretty big – we earned it.
“Hopefully it’s a shot in the arm for us, and can get us going in the right direction.”
The Warriors trailed the ‘Cats by 13 points at halftime, but mounted a comeback in the third quarter, keyed by three straight three-pointers from Jon Pelling.
“That was the catalyst for us,” Dykstra explained.
“After that, we just kept taking the ball inside to Kristophe Baerg, Jake Newman and Corey Barker.”
Dykstra also singled out point guard Tyus Allen for his efforts.
“He really controlled the pace of the game for us,” the coach said.
And though he was as excited as his players to win the Southwest conference, Dykstra tempered the mood by insisting that he’d need to see a similarly strong follow-up performance before declaring his team to be playing its best.
“We need to see a repeat performance, for sure, but this is a good start,” he said.
In semifinals Thursday, WRCA edged the Elgin Park Orcas 70-62 to advance to the finals.
And thought they lost to White Rock Thursday, it was the underdog Orcas who pulled off an upset to rival White Rock’s win over the Wildcats.
On Wednesday night, the Orcas – who had not qualified for the Fraser Valley tournament in three years – ensured themselves of a strong seeding at the Valley showdown after upsetting the No. 2-ranked Delta Pacers 85-80.
“Last year, we didn’t even get out of Surrey (championships),” Elgin Park coach Dan Walker said. “Making it to the Fraser Valleys was our goal at the start of the year, in November, and now we’ve done it.
“This a real shocking, upset win.”
Delta led 28-14 after the first quarter, and was up 44-35 at halftime before the Orcas mounted a late-game comeback.
Sam Conti had 20 points – including 13 in the first quarter – while Brett Walker finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds and Alex Hadikin added 16 points and 12 boards.
The game was a marked improvement from the last time the two teams faced off a month ago.
“We got our lunch handed to us in that one. We took a spanking, quite frankly,” Walker said. “This time, I don’t think the boys thought they’d be able to win, but they knew they weren’t going to go out there and get killed again. We just get grinding out there.”
Two other South Surrey/Cloverdale teams advanced to Fraser Valleys – Sullivan Heights and Lord Tweedsmuir.
WRCA will head into the Valleys as the No. 4 seed, and will play No. 29 Kwantlen Park Wednesday at 8 p.m. at WRCA, while No. 14 Elgin will face Abbotsford Collegiate, ranked 19th. Sullivan Heights will be the 31st seed, which means a Wednesday date with the No. 2 Walnut Grove Gators, while Tweedsmuir, ranked 20th, will face No. 13 Maple Ridge, at 6:15 p.m. at WRCA.
The finals are set for the Langley Events Centre Saturday at 7:45 p.m.