WRCA Warriors head to Valleys as top seed

Tamanawis Wildcats
Tamanawis Wildcats' Sukhraj Biring drives to the hoop against White Rock Christian Warrior Peter Spangehl in the final game of the Surrey RCMP Basketball Classic last month, which was won by WRCA. WRCA defeated the Wildcats again Friday in zone playoff finals.
— image credit: Boaz Joseph photo

The White Rock Christian Academy Warriors will head into this week's Fraser Valley senior AAA boys basketball championships as the No. 1 seed, after a convincing run through the Valley's southwest conference last week.

The Warriors, the No. 2 southwest seed, captured the zone banner with a 68-50 win over the top-seeded Tamanawis Wildcats Friday night.

Defence was key in the 18-point victory, as the Warriors held their opponents to just 16 first-half points, while scoring 33 themselves.

The second half was more even – Tamanawis got within 10 points in the third quarter, after a run of three-pointers – but it was as close as they'd get.

"After that, we hit a few big threes ourselves, and got back up by 18 or so, and then we both just traded baskets the rest of the way," WRCA coach Dale Shury said.

Vartan Tanelian led the team with 28 points, and Tyus Allen and Sam Ykema had 16 and 13 points, respectively.

Shury was especially impressed with the play of Ykema, who was credited with 10 rebounds and nine more deflections – would-be rebounds he instead tipped to teammates.

"He was able to keep plays alive, either by getting the rebound himself or getting a hand on it and getting it to somebody else. We had a lot of second-chance points because of it," the coach said.

Prior to that contest, WRCA defeated North Delta 88-53 Thursday, and Elgin Park 77-57 in the first game of the tournament; the team's average margin of victory in the tournament was 24 points.

"After we came off that big roll in January (winning three straight tournaments), the guys haven't really played inspired basketball," Shury said.

"So that's what this week was about – getting back to that January form. And the guys started a little slow against Elgin, but were awesome against Delta and Tammy."

WRCA now prepares for the start of Fraser Valley championships tomorrow (Wednesday), when they host 32nd seed Clayton Heights at 8 p.m.

And despite playing the bottom-ranked team, Shury insists his team isn't taking the contest lightly.

"You can't do that, no matter what, at this time of year. Wednesday is an elimination game, so we have to stay focused if we want to move on," he said.

The top eight Fraser Valley teams move on to provincials, which means WRCA will have to win twice at Valleys in order to advance.

They aren't the only Peninsula squad in the mix, either. Elgin Park is the No. 20 seed at Fraser Valleys, and faces off against No. 13 Heritage Woods Wednesday at Tamanawis, while 26th-seeded Semiahmoo will face off against No. 7 Lord Tweedsmuir.

Tamanawis, the No. 4 squad, will play 29th-ranked L.A. Matheson.

The second round of Valleys is set for Friday – WRCA and Tamanawis will again host games – with the third round set for Monday. The playoff rounds behind Feb. 28 at Fleetwood Park and the Langley Events Centre.

Earl Marriott is the lone South Surrey school not to advance past the southwest zone, having lost their opening zone game earlier this month.

"We had a tumultuous season in terms of wins and losses and injuries, but we fought and never quit," said EMS coach Christopher Finlay. "I couldn't be more proud of our small group of kids. They battled as hard as they could."

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