A three-win, one-loss record earned the Vanier Towhees senior boys basketball team fifth place at the 16-team Cedar-Woodlands tournament in Nanaimo on the weekend.
The host Cedar Spartans scheduled Vanier first and paid dearly as the visitors upended them 61-54 in their tournament opener right in their own gym.
"It was a dandy game indeed," said Towhees' coach Larry Street. Close throughout, the game was tied with two minutes left. The tough Spartan zone was easy to break for the Towhees, but again they shot only 35 per cent.
That kept the game close, until the closing minutes where the Towhee defence tightened up, and they scored some tough baskets along with key free throws to seal the deal.
Scott Stevens led the way with 20 points and six rebounds while Joaquin Paterna had a good all round game with 10 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and three steals. Joss Biggins added 12 points.
Vanier then met the Ballenas Whalers. A 2-3 zone was tough to penetrate for the Towhees, and the Ballenas boys shot the ball very well, to make this another very close game. "But, unfortunately, in the end of this one-point game Ballenas were 68-65 victors due to some key missed shots by Vanier," Street said. "Still, this was a very good game to watch." Towhee scorers were Biggins (20), Paterna (14) and Stevens (13).
The Saturday morning special featured an athletic and very tall NDSS team against the feisty Towhees. Vanier prevailed in this hard-fought battle 68-57, due primarily to the devastating full court press that built a 20-point lead early in the second half.
"Ballenas featured a front line of 6',8", 6',6" and 6',5" players and a very talented Grade 10 guard at 6',3". Shooting from the field and the free throw line improved a lot this game and helped us win," Street noted.
Biggins had another 20-point game and Stevens added 15.
Vanier then met Princess Margaret Lions from Surrey in the game for fifth place.
"PMSS were a very quick, small team that had trouble with the aggressive man-to-man defence we showed throughout the game," Street said. "Our bigger, more solid inside presence was too much to handle for the Lions, with Foster Dewitt leading the way with 16 points and nine rebounds."
Five players had double figures for the Towhees, and all the players scored in a convincing 83-57 win.
Street said every Towhee played outstanding individual and team defence to stifle the Lions, who could not keep up to the fast breaks Vanier kept getting. Colton Derycke (11), Harry Li (12), Paterna (13), Biggins (14) and Dewitt all hit double figures.
The Towhees finish off North Island League play tonight in Duncan with a 7 p.m. tip-off against the Cowichan Thunderbirds. North Island playoffs go Feb. 22-23 at Cowichan, followed by the Island championships Feb. 28 to March 2 at Mt. Doug in Victoria. The top two Island teams advance to the 20-team B.C. championships March 12-16 at the Langley Events Centre.
– Vanier Towhees Basketball