For the first time in many years, the Mark Isfeld senior boys basketball team entered the North Island playoff tournament as underdogs in each of the three games they played. The triple-A tourney was last weekend in Port Alberni.
In their opener against rival Carihi, the Ice defence shut down Campbell River’s top player to 15 total points and only one point in the second half. The players, coaches and spectators witnessed one of the most brilliant halves of basketball at any level in memory. Temwa Mtawali scored 29 points, four assists and two steals to lead his team to a 46-32 half-time lead. Zach Taylor came up with big rebounds and added 17 points. Sam Purcell played his usual steady guard position and added 12 points. Big timing threes by Quinn Roberts and Bryce Benton in the second half would not let Carihi back into the game. The final score was 81-64 Isfeld.
The Ice then faced the number one, and undefeated, Ladysmith in the semi-finals. Down eight early on, Isfeld went on another first-quarter run and led by four at the end of the first. The boys increased the lead to eight by the half. In the second half, Isfeld never let Ladysmith get back all the way and won in a 74-60 final. Mtawali played another outstanding game with 27 points. Taylor scored 16 and Quinn Roberts had 17 points. The rebounding, defence, and pure grit and hustle by Owen Crouse was unmatched.
“That huge upset put the Ice into the finals against John Barsby from Nanaimo,” coach Kent Milburn said.
Barsby’s size made a big difference throughout the competitive game. With the Ice down by seven at half, and by 10 at different times during the third and fourth quarters, the boys could just not get over the hump in the second half and lost 84-74.
Mtawali again led all scorers with 29 points. Sam Purcell and Michael Aguilar each had 14, and Roberts added 10 points.
“A second-place finish at North Islands was a very satisfying result,” Milburn said.
Isfeld moves on to the Island tournament in Ladysmith, which starts Thursday. They play the Reynolds Roadrunners — the number three team from the South Island, coached by former Ice player Tyler Olsen — at 4 p.m.