Macyn Leopkey-Johnson was one of Vanier’s top contributors at the UVIC Alumni Tournament. Peggy Street file photo

Alumni tourney a wakeup call for Comox Valley basketball team

With a depleted lineup, the Vanier Towhees senior boys basketball team was winless at the UVIC Alumni Tournament Dec. 28-30, which featured some of the top teams in Canada.

In their opener, Vanier faced Claremont of Victoria, the top 4A team on Vancouver Island which is ranked number five in B.C.

The game started out tight, until Claremont implemented a half-court trapping defence, and the Towhees fell apart. Coach Larry Street said things worsened when his team got into foul trouble.

“Our bench was depleted by the absence of two 6’5 forwards who normally get lots of time, and a sick player on the bench all weekend. So, the new players had problems as well with the press, and the game was over early. Claremont played their entire bench and kept the 30-point win intact. No bright lights for Vanier, and a wakeup call that much more needs to be worked on. Luckily, it’s a long season.”

The final score was 50-81.

Next up was a meeting with Dover Bay of Nanaimo. Street said both teams were careful not to show too much since they will be meeting in a big league game Jan. 7 at Vanier.

A seesaw battle for most of the first half, Dover took over in the 3rd quarter while Vanier just couldn’t score.

Starting the fourth quarter, Vanier was down by 21 points, so coach had to try some new things. The focus had to be made not only on scoring but also to make stops. The Towhees erased the 21 by the eight-minute mark of the fourth, and then it was a chess match of free throws, and silly throw-aways by both teams. Dover prevailed 76-71. Peter Greaves finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Brayden Waugh was his beastly self with 12 points, mostly in the fourth quarter, and 16 hard fought rebounds. An ill Jakob Tortorelli not only left his heart and soul on the floor on defence, but added 15 points and four steals. Macyn Leopkey-Johnson pitched in nine points and five assists.

Vanier’s last game was against a young Oak Bay squad that had excellent skills, and played a stifling man-to-man defence the entire game.

“Another back-and-forth game for the Towhees, and in the end we had a chance to take the lead after Oak Bay turns the ball over,” Street said. “Peter Greaves goes coast to coast while all the other players sprinted with him, and with a few seconds left we just couldn’t finish the play. Still, it was exciting and we hope to see Oak Bay again possibly at the Islands.”

Greaves had 29 points and 14 rebounds. Leopkey-Johnson had 13 points and five assists. Cam Bell chipped in 10 points, eight assists and six steals. Final score: Oak Bay 71, Vanier 70.

Fredericton High defeated B.C. 4A number one Centennial of Coquitlam 103-100 in the final. Vancouver College, B.C. number 6, beat Claremont by 10 points in the third-place game.

The Towhees and Dover Bay tip off at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 7 at Vanier.

Vanier then hosts the 51st annual Towhee Tournament Jan. 9-11. There will be 12 teams competing, including Highland of Comox, and Gaglardi Academy of Comox. Other Island teams include 4A Mount Doug of Victoria, 3A John Barsby of Nanaimo and 4A Royal Bay of Langford (Victoria).

“Plenty of action for a basketball-starved community, since these are the first home games of the year,” Street said.

Highland takes on Guildford Park in the Thursday opener at 3 p.m. Vanier and Gaglardi play at 8 p.m. Thursday.

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