The White Rock Christian Academy Warriors sent the St. George’s Saints marching out of the BC High School Boys Basketball Championships Wednesday afternoon, after a thrilling 63-62 overtime victory.
Despite suffering through a fourth-quarter and overtime dryspell that saw the Warriors go nearly eight minutes without making a basketball – and watching a 16-point third quarter lead vanish in the process – WRCA finally went up by one point as the clock ticked down in the extra frame. White Rock trailed by one with nine seconds left, when senior forward Jake Newman took the ball and drove to the basket, depositing a lay-in to put his team up one.
The lead held – but barely.
With just 2.5 seconds left in OT, Saints’ guard Declan was fouled. Needing to sink one of two shots to tie the game, he missed both. On the second miss, WRCA forward Kristophe Baerg scooped up the rebound and ran down court as time expired.
With the win, WRCA advances to the Round of 8 today (Thursday), where they’ll face off against a familiar foe – the Tamanawis Wildcats. White Rock and Tamanawis have played each other four times this season, with the ‘Cats winning three; the most recent victory for the Delta school was a 61-50 win in Fraser Valley quarter-finals last month.
“I never thought we were going to lose,” said WRCA Dale Shury of Wednesday’s win.
“It helped that for much of the game that we had a double-digit lead, so even as they clawed back, I was confident we’d hold on to win – even if, in the end, we were the ones who had to make a comeback.”
The irony of winning the game thanks to a pair of missed free throws was not lost on Shury, who pointed out that if his squad hadn’t missed so many foul shots themselves, the game never would have got to overtime. In the final 2:46 of regulation time, WRCA went just 2-for-8 from the line.
“Coming down the stretch, we had so many free throws, so many chance to ice the game, but just couldn’t do it,” Shury said.
“We had a couple hundreds fans out to watch, a lot of students from the school… maybe the boys missed those free throws on purpose just to give the fans full value for the money, I don’t know.”
As WRCA struggled to score in the game’s final moments, the Saints continued to claw back, and finallytied the game in the final 20 seconds when Milan Mitrovic nailed a three-point shot.
Then, early in overtime, Tylon Barker hit another three-pointer to put the Vancouver private school – the top-seeded Lower Mainland team – up 62-59.
Newman then responded by scoring the final four points of the game – the first two on free throws, and the last two on his game-winning drive to the basket. He finished with 19 points, which tied him with point guard Tyus Allen – who fouled out late in the fourth quarter – for the team lead.
Mitrovic scored a game-high 21 in a losing effort for St. George’s.
White Rock is the only team left in the tournament that took part in Tuesday’s play-in round. In that contest, the Warriors defeated Cranbrook’s Mount Baker Wild.
Today’s game between WRCA and Tamanawis hits the court at 6:30 p..m. at the Langley Events Centre.