It was a good news, bad news weekend for basketball players – both current and former – at White Rock Christian Academy last weekend.
The school’s junior boys won a provincial title Saturday, just two days after its senior squad saw its season end before the B.C. tournament even began.
First, the good news. WRCA’s junior boys team won its first-ever provincial championship Saturday in Victoria, edging the host St. Michael’s University School Blue Jags 55-51, in front of more than 1,000 spectators at the Vancouver Island private school.
The Warriors trailed by seven points at halftime, but a strong third quarter gave them a two-point lead heading into the fourth. St. Mike’s tied the game 48-48 with under two minutes to play, but White Rock held on for the win.
“We went on a nice little 7-0 run at the end,” said WRCA assistant coach Dale Shury Monday. “It was close, but the guys played great and managed to pull it out.
“The guys are probably still walking on Cloud 9 at school today, I’m pretty sure.”
WRCA’s Sam Ykema led the Warriors with 27 points, and was named tournament MVP.
Peter Spangehl was named a tournament first-team all-star, while point guard Tyus Allen was winner of WRCA’s team award.
Though the majority of the of fans at the title tilt were cheering for the host squad from St. Mike’s, White Rock was technically the home team by virtue of being a higher-seed.
And in addition to the 50 or so WRCA fans in attendance – “They more than held their own,” Shury assured – each player brought a little piece of home with them, too.
Before the tournament, the players were given small pieces of WRCA’s dark blue court, which were cut out of the school’s gym prior to the trip to to Victoria.
“We just wanted them to feel like it was truly a home game,” said Shury. “The atmosphere was incredible.”
White Rock began the tournament with a lopsided 84-51 win over L.V. Rogers, before bouncing Burnaby South 70-50 in a game Shury said was closer than the score indicated.
“Burnaby’s a good team, but we just played really, really well in that one. It wasn’t a cakewalk.”
The provincial semifinals were a rematch of the Fraser Valley title game – which WRCA won over W.J. Mouat earlier this month. White Rock again got the best of their Abbotsford rivals, winning 58-45.
WRCA point guard Tyus Allen was the game’s high-scorer, with 24 points, and he helped ice the game by going seven-for-eight from the free-throw line down the stretch.
WRCA’s seniors, meanwhile, will be on the outside of B.C. Triple A basketball championships looking in for the first time in more than 10 years, after losing its final game of the Fraser Valleys – which was a do-or-die affair – 72-62 to the lower-ranked Fleetwood Park Dragons.
The Warriors led by 10 at halftime, but struggled in the second half and coughed up the lead.
A day after the loss, WRCA head coach John Dykstra was still upset with the game’s outcome.
“That’s an understatement,” he said. “We were up at halftime, but Fleetwood Park just wanted it more than us. We didn’t box out, we didn’t play good defence – we let them have way too many second- and third-chance points.
“We didn’t deserve to win, plain and simple.”
Before facing Fleetwood Park, the Warriors lost 65-46 to Walnut Grove, which set up Thursday’s winner-take-all tilt for a spot at provincials.
“There’s just this empty feeling,” Dykstra continued.
“When you get beat in the finals, that’s one thing, that isn’t an empty feeling. But when you work so hard all year – all those 5:30 a.m. practices, the nutrition plans, all that stuff – and then you lose like that, when you have so much more you could’ve gave…”
And to top off a busy weekend on the hardcourt, three former WRCA stars – Tyrell and Eli Mara and Tonner Jackson – in addition to former coach Scott Allen, helped lead the Trinity Western University Spartans to a berth in CIS Championships, set to begin in Halifax later this week.
The Spartans, who were ranked No. 4 in the country heading into the Canada West championships, earned the eighth and final spot at CIS championships.
They lost to the University of Saskatchewan Huskies in Canada West championships last week but beat the Alberta Golden Bears to finish third in Canada West, which led to the wild card entry.
They tip off against Acadia Friday at 9 a.m.