The Southridge Storm were not the most gracious of hosts – on the basketball court, at least – as they rolled through the competition at their own tournament last week.
The South Surrey private school’s senior boys hoops team placed first at the KFACE Classic, which ran Jan. 31 until Feb. 1, defeating Richmond’s McMath Wildcats 59-52 in the final game.
In semifinal action a day earlier, the host team defeated North Vancouver St. Thomas Aquinas Regional Secondary, 69-57, and in the first round of action, Southridge beat Vancouver’s West Point Grey Academy, 76-52.
The tournament victory was another feather in the Storm’s cap, with the team having already won tournaments this season in both Delta and, in early December, at the Independent Schools Tournament, which head coach Ray Kwok told Peace Arch News “really put us on the map.”
“There were a lot of really good teams there,” said Kwok, who took over the senior squad this year from longtime coach Steve Anderson, whose new job as vice-principal of Southridge’s junior school precluded him from also coaching the senior group.
The Storm have been on the rise provincially for much of this season, moving up through the top-10 rankings to their current perch at No. 4 among B.C. double-A senior boys squads.
“We started the year as honourable mentions (in the top-10 rankings),” said Kwok, adding that the team is also undefeated in league play.
“It’s been a good year, and we’ve been doing well.”
Though Kwok is in his first year at the helm of the senior squad, he was already familiar with most of the players on the Grade 12-heavy team, having coached them previously at the junior level; Kwok has coach Southridge’s junior teams for the past five seasons.
“I coached this group in Grade 10 and we finished third in Surrey back then, so we knew going into this year that there was a lot of talent here… we knew we’d be good, but you never really know,” he said.
“You know what you did in junior ball, but can you have success in senior? Every level you go, (competition) gets that much better.”
Storm forward Rohan Sall was named tournament MVP at the KFACE Klassic, while Brandt Muncey-Buckley and Graham Block were named to all-stars.
Other Surrey teams that took part in the tournament included the Elgin Park Orcas, who lost their opening-round tilt to St. Thomas Aquinas; North Surrey, who won their first-round game against Kelowna’s Aberdeen Hall but lost in semifinals to McMath; and Princess Margaret, which lost to McMath in the first round.
The tournament served as a fundraiser for KFACE, which is the Kenya Foundation to Aid Children Through Education.
— Southridge Storm (@SouthridgeSport) January 26, 2020
Southridge, which briefly moved up to the triple-A level in 2015 and won a provincial title that year, is back at double-A and is setting its sights on provincial championships, which get rolling next month at the Langley Events Centre.
“Provincials is our goal. But I’ve been telling the guys that we have to focus on the process and if you do that, the results usually take care of themselves,” Kwok said.
“So I don’t want to look too far ahead.”
Earlier this month, the B.C. High Schools Boys Basketball Association announced that Southridge’s zone – which includes Surrey, Delta and Richmond teams – would receive three berths into provincial championships.
Southridge will be among the favourites at the zone playoff tournament, which runs Feb. 25-28. The 2020 BC High School Double-A Boys Basketball Championships are scheduled for March 4-7.
On the senior girls hard court, Southridge is also set to host South Fraser zone championships, Feb. 11-13.