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Totems head coach reflects after “emotional” week at BC high-sch00l hoops championships

Semiahmoo second, Tamanawis third at Langley Events Centre-hosted provincials

A roller-coaster week at the Langley Events Centre ended with a loss for the Semiahmoo Totems Saturday night, as the team lost 80-72 to the Burnaby South Rebels in the final game of BC High School 4A Senior Boys Basketball Championships.

Along the way, the Totems – who were the tournament’s No. 6 seed – dispatched a pair of crosstown rivals. In quarter-finals Thursday, they beat Holy Cross 83-64, and on Friday night, edged the Miguel Tomley and the Tamanawis Wildcats, 75-67.

“It was a pretty interesting path to the finals, playing two of our rivals,” Semiahmoo head coach Ed Lefurgy told Peace Arch News Monday morning, less than 36 hours after the tournament’s final buzzer sounded.

“It was a lot of fun – very exciting to play in the finals, in the arena bowl with the crowd… It was very emotional, a lot of ups and downs, this whole week. It was probably one of the things I wasn’t prepared for.”

The berth in the championship game was Semiahmoo’s first since 1961.

A fourth Surrey team, Cloverdale’s Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers, lost to Burnaby South in the first round Wednesday, and finished the tournament in ninth.

After opening the tournament Wednesday morning with a win over the Okanagan zone champion Rutland Voodoos, the Totems advanced to battle Holy Cross Thursday. Not your usual No. 14 seed, the Crusaders – who were No. 1 in provincial preseason rankings, and upset the No. 3-seeded Handsworth Royals in the first round – got a 20-point effort from Uyi Ologhola, but it wasn’t enough for a second-straight upset, as the Totems rode a 30-point game from Adam Paige to the win.

On Friday night against Tamanawis, the Totems were able to hold off a 48-point effort from Tomley – whom Lefurgy called the best player in the province, and perhaps the best player his team faced all season, U.S. competition included – to advance to the title game.

“We threw a lot of double teams at him, and tried to control the rebounds,” Lefurgy said of his team’s strategy to keep Tomley under wraps.

“I thought we did a pretty good job. We put Jordan Chen on him, and he did the best that he could, but Tomley is an incredible player.”

Tomley, a Newton resident, followed up Friday’s semifinal loss with a performance for the ages in the third-place game Saturday against the Belmont Bulldogs. He scored 66 points in his team’s 100-76 win, to finish the tournament with 180 points in four games – a new tournament record.

The new mark was 13 points better than Queen Charlotte’s Nathan Vogstad, who had 167 points in four games in 2014. In fact, the 180 points also topped Cameron Smythe’s tournament record for points over five games, as the Sir Charles Tupper star scored 177 in five games back in 2012.

The 66-point effort is also the second most single-game mark in the history of the tournament, which dates back to 1946. The single-game record is 75 points by Vogstad in 2014.

The Totems trailed for much of Saturday’s final against the Burnaby South Rebels, who along with 13th-ranked Belmont and Holy Cross, were the best of a handful of underdog stories to dominate headlines at provincials.

The Rebels’ lead stayed in single digits for much of the contest, eventually extending to 13 in the second half, before Semiahmoo reeled them back in near the end.

“It was a close game. They’d get a lead, we pulled it back, but they shot the ball very well,” Lefurgy said.

Burnaby South shot 42.5 per cent from the field, compared to just 33.3 for the Totems.

“We just didn’t get some bounces and we didn’t really create our own luck.”

Vlad Mihaila led Semiahmoo with 33 points and 13 rebounds while Adam Paige had 18 points, 13 rebounds and three blocked shots.

Both players were also named first team all-stars and Paige also picked up the tournament’s most outstanding defensive player. Tomley was also named a first-team all star, while Ologhola was picked for the second team. Burnaby South’s Jusuf Sehic was named tournament MVP, and Semiahmoo was also awarded the School Spirit Award.

Longtime Burnaby South coach Mike Bell – whose been involved with the school’s hoops program for 13 years – said his team came together at the right time to make a Cinderella run through the tournament.

“The teams just haven’t jelled at the older ages,” he said. “To finally have this team jell was just absolutely amazing.

“These boys who I have known since they were little boys just became men today. They battled through everything today to get to where they are.”

– with files from Gary Ahuja