When the BC School Sports 4A Boys Basketball Championships tip off this week, the Semiahmoo Thunderbirds will be plenty motivated to do well – even as they prepare to roster the youngest team in the tournament.
The seeding and draw for the 16-team tournament was announced Sunday, and the Thunderbirds will be seeded No. 7, which means they face No. 10 Oak Bay in the first round Wednesday night at the Langley Events Centre.
The two squads have met once already this season, in an exhibition game at Semiahmoo Secondary back in early December. Semiahmoo won that contest, but head coach Ed Lefurgy cautioned against reading too much into that game’s final score – a message he’s also delivered to his young team, lest his players take the game too lightly.
“That’s the one spot where the youth of our team worries me a bit. (Oak Bay) is a very well-coached team, so we have to be ready for this game,” he said. “They’re going to be ready, they’re going to make adjustments (during the game), so we have to be ready, as well.”
Semiahmoo is coming into provincial championships – which wrap up Saturday night at the LEC – on something of a hot streak, having just captured the school’s first-ever South Fraser senior boys hoops banner. The T-Birds defeated Holy Cross in semifinals, and in the championship game, edged Fleetwood Park by a single point, winning 93-92.
Lefurgy called the final “an exciting, fun, back-and-forth” game.
Three of Semi’s young stars – all Grade 10s – led the way, with Andre Juco scoring 24 points in the final, while Torian Lee “was the best player on the floor” en route to being named tournament MVP, Lefurgy said.
A third Grade 10 player, Cole Beckering, was also named a first-team all-star.
“We’re a young group but we’ve played a lot of basketball. For our group, this is going to be our first time we’ll get a taste of provincial championships, which is the best basketball in the province, so it’s going to be a great opportunity for us,” Lefurgy continued.
“And with those tough South Fraser games, I think we’re as ready as anybody for this tournament.”
Though the core of the team will have more kicks at the provincial-championship can in the future – both next year and in 2024 – Lefurgy was cautioning his squad from looking too far ahead, or thinking that it’s a foregone conclusion that they’ll be back in this spot in the future.
After all, if the COVID-19 pandemic has proven anything, it’s that no sports season is a sure thing.
“I’m trying to fight that thought – I don’t want to think about next year or the year after,” Lefurgy said.
“I want everyone to be in the moment, enjoy it and play for today.”
The winner of Wednesday night’s opening game will advance to quarter-finals, which are set for Thursday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. at the LEC’s arena bowl court.
3A Senior Boys
The provincial 3A hoops tournament, which also begins Wednesday at the LEC, also features a South Surrey team – and a highly ranked one at that.
The Elgin Park Orcas, fresh from a South Fraser title of its own, enter the 3A showdown as a the No. 2 seed, behind over St. Patrick Regional Secondary from Vancouver.
The Orcas defeated Richmond’s McNeil Secondary 90-79 to capture the South Fraser title last weekend.
As the No. 2 team, Elgin Park will face the No. 15 seeded Timberline in Wednesday’s opener. Top off is scheduled for 8:45 p.m. at the LEC’s centre court. The winner of that game will advance to quarter-finals Thursday at 5:15 p.m., and will play the winner of No. 7 Mark R. Isfeld Secondary and No. 10 St. Thomas More Collegiate.
2A Senior Boys
At the 2A provincial championship, South Surrey will be represented by the Southridge Storm.
The Storm senior boys are just a few days removed from a convincing victory over top-seeded Pacific Academy in the final game of South Fraser 2A championships.
Pacific Academy – the No. 4 seeded 2A team in the province – had defeated Southridge twice already this season, but as Storm head coach Ray Kwok explained, the team made some adjustments before the third meeting, and the changes paid off.
Kwok told Peace Arch News that he just wanted his team to keep the game close until the later stages, at which point they might be in position to strike. But instead, they got out to a big lead and kept it, eventually winning 70-43.
Southridge will open provincials at the LEC Wednesday at 1:45 p.m. with a game against No. 15-seed Summerland.