Though neither the Southridge Storm nor White Rock Christian Academy Warriors won last week’s Telus Basketball Classic, the prestigious tournament was still something of a learning experience for both South Surrey teams.
For the Storm senior boys, who play at the AA level, the tournament was a chance to sharpen their skills against some of the best AAA teams in the province, and for the Warriors – among the province’s top-ranked AAA teams heading into the season – it was a wake-up call.
“I’m obviously upset by it, but for the team to learn from this, I think that was very important,” said WRCA coach John Dykstra, who saw his team drop its opening game 67-58 to Pitt Meadows Wednesday, before bouncing back to beat Richmond’s R.C. Palmer 80-56 Friday.
“We were in all the games, even though we were playing poorly.”
The trouble for WRCA, Dykstra said, came from his players trying to do too much themselves, which lead to a cacophony of turnovers and ball-handling errors – especially late in games.
“We just weren’t taking care of the ball, and we had guys trying to do too much on their own,” he said. “When we take care of the ball, we can be a special team, but the guys just have to pass it instead of trying to do it all themselves.”
In Wednesday’s loss, which knocked them from title contention right away, the Warriors got 12 points from six-foot-seven forward Jake Newman, and 11 apiece from Vartan Tanielian and Tyus Allen, but the WRCA defence was unable to contain Pitt Meadows’ Matt Blackaby, who had 31.
Against Palmer, Newman again led the charge with 18 points, and was one of five Warriors to finish in double figures.
For Southridge, who also lost their opening game to eventual finalists Vancouver College – who lost in the title game to the Kelowna Owls – the tournament was a chance to see how they’d match up against top competition. And in that regard, the week was a success, said head coach Steve Anderson.
“Overall, I’d say it turned out pretty well,” he said. “We were up against schools that are a lot bigger than us, and better than most of the teams we’re going to play in our league.”
After losing 94-58 to Vancouver College, Southridge dropped an 89-77 decision to Churchill, who are a top-10 AAA school in B.C.
“There were stretches where we played really, really well – we got to within six points of Churchill in the fourth quarter at one point, but just couldn’t get over the hump.
“For us, it was a really good battle. It was good for us.”
Anderson was especially pleased with the play of Ben Severide and Shahbaj Dhillon, who he said “were outstanding for us.”