Hoop dreams come into focus
To suggest Tyus Allen is familiar with the history of basketball success at White Rock Christian Academy is something of an understatement.
As the son of former WRCA athletic director and boys basketball coach Scott Allen, Tyus has – quite literally – grown up on the school’s blue court.
Even before he was old enough to play basketball at the high school level, he could be found after school on the empty court, lobbing up long three-pointers while his dad worked in his office in the corner of the gym.
He’s studied and, whether consciously or simply through osmosis, learned the game by watching nearly every star player the school has had in the last decade or more, from Kyle Wilson to Tyrell Mara to Riley Barker – each of whom has his jersey hanging on the gym wall.
He had a front-row seat for the WRCA Warriors’ last major on-court triumph, too.
“When we won the provincial championship in 2005, he sat on the bench that whole game,” said Scott, now the head coach of the men’s hoops team at Trinity Western University in Langley. “He’s in the team picture.”
And if you dig up the old celebration photo – or happen to see it among the many that plaster the walls of the small WRCA gym office – there indeed is Tyus Allen, a skinny-as-a-rail eight-year-old, standing behind Mara and Peter Morrison on the floor of the PNE Agrodome.
“I’ve grown a little bit since then,” Tyus laughed, when reminded of the photo.
There, again, is another understatement.
Tyus has grown from the skinny kid to one of the unquestioned leaders on the No. 2 AAA senior boys basketball team in the province, a team that is coming off back-to-back tournament championships – the prestigious Legal Beagle in Coquitlam and the Surrey RCMP Classic last weekend.
In the RCMP event, Tyus scored 32 points in the final game and was named tournament MVP.
Both head coach Dale Shury and Scott, who has returned to the WRCA fold as an associate coach, have seen a marked improvement in their Grade 12 point guard, who serves as one of two team captains, alongside fellow senior Vartan Tanelian.
“It’s his maturity, more than anything else,” Shury said.
“He’d always been a very emotional player, but he’s learning to control those emotions and channel them for use on the court in a positive way.
“Before, sometimes his emotions would get the best of him and he’d get into foul trouble because of it and mentally take himself out of the game, but we’re not seeing those moments anymore.”
Tyus agreed and, though he admits he’s made an effort to change, he said his new, calmer attitude has mostly come naturally.
“I’ve just grown out of that a bit, that emotional state.”
As the starting point guard, Tyus has been the team’s on-court leader for much of the season – “It comes with the position, like being the quarterback in football,” his dad said – but he’s also impressed both Shury and Scott with his work ethic.
“Coming from his mom and me, he’s not genetically superior to anybody else, so the way he’s got here is through hours and hours of practice, and determination. His discipline is second to none,” said Scott, who admits, as a coach, he’s had to learn to “lay off” being overly critical of Tyus, and instead let him have his turn at running the team on the court.
“When he has to be somewhere – a gym, a tryout, looking at film, at school – he’s always there. He never stops.
“He understand what it takes and he works at it, and the other guys on the team do, too. They’re aiming for excellence, all of them.”
That run at excellence is on the horizon, as the Warriors gear up for the playoffs and what they hope is a long run at provincials in March.
“I think we’re on the upswing and we’re all really starting to play well. Our defence is getting better, and our offense is still going strong. It just feels like everything’s going right for us right now,” Tyus said.
“This is huge for me. I’ve been waiting for this since, well, for as long as I’ve been here, for as long as I can remember.”
He’d love nothing more, he added, than to add another championship banner to the many that hang on his school’s gym wall; WRCA has lost two provincial finals since that 2005 victory.
And maybe take a new picture, too.