Mark Isfeld Ice finished fourth at the March 12-15 B.C. AAA boys high school basketball championships.
Seeded seventh going into the 16-team tournament at the Langley Events Centre, the Ice drew perennial Fraser Valley powerhouse Maple Ridge Ramblers in their opening round match on Wednesday, March 12.
Isfeld trailed 14-9 after the first quarter and by five at the half. Noah Kaefer provided a spark in the first half, coming off the bench to give a struggling Ice squad some much-needed offensive punch. He finished with eight points.
The game turned into an old school defensive showdown, with the Ridge packing it in playing a 3-2 zone and the Ice playing their typical stingy man-to-man. In the third quarter the Ice began to seize control of the game as Cole Hutchings guarded the Ramblers’ best player, holding him to five points in the entire second half after he had 14 by the break.
Points were hard to come by, but with a superb defensive effort the Ice held the Ramblers to just eight points in the third quarter to go up by two. The fourth quarter was more of the same and the Ice prevailed 45-39.
Leading scorers were Morgan Proctor with 10 while Hutchings, Richard Girard and Owen Kaefer chipped in with nine each. The key to the victory was a superb defensive effort and total domination of the glass as the Ice out-rebounded Maple Ridge 50-28.
In the quarter-finals, Isfeld faced Vancouver #1 and tourney #2 seed Charles Tupper Tigers. The Ice built an early lead and went into halftime up 35-25. Tupper made a run in the third quarter to close to within five, which set up the drama of the fourth quarter.
Both Girard and Owen Kaefer hit their foul shots in the last minute to put the Ice up one with 15 seconds to go. After Kaefer’s foul shot, Ron Ronquillo drove to the basket and hit a tough, fade-away 15-foot jumper to give Tupper its first lead of the game (60-59) with 5.9 seconds left.
Isfeld called a timeout to advance the ball into the front court where the end of the game drama unfolded. Hutchings set a screen for Proctor and then popped to the corner, catching the inbounds pass. He immediately drove to the basket, drawing three Tupper defenders, and put up a tough shot. The shot missed, but Proctor drove to the basket, secured the offensive board and scored with 1.4 seconds left. Tupper chose not to call a timeout, inbounded the basketball quickly, and took a hurried 75-foot shot that rimmed out.
In the semifinal Isfeld faced Charles Hays Rainmakers from Prince Rupert, who had defeated the #3 seed in the first game of the tournament. The Rainmakers were led by BC U16 team member Justin McChesney and his 25 points. After being up two at the half on terrific shooting from Girard and Hutchings, the Ice cooled off in the second half and Charles Hays prevailed 73-65. Hutchings led all scorers with 26, Girard had 17 and Owen Kaefer added 12.
On Saturday, after playing three straight games of tough man-to-man defence, the Ice ran out of gas against #1 seeded Abbotsford Panthers, losing 71-51. Down only one (37-36) at the half, the Ice could not buy a basket in the third quarter and ended up down 12. The final score was not an indication of how hard Isfeld competed, but rather a sign of exhausted shooters.
Abby opened the game playing man-to-man and could not contain the Isfeld quintet, but inconsistent shooting hurt the Ice as they trailed 21-20 at the end of the first quarter. Once again Hutchings ended up the game’s leading scorer with 18 points, followed by Girard with 14 and Proctor with 11.
Hutchings was named the tournament’s Best Defensive Player and placed on the first all-star team. After spending the entire season ranked in the top 10 in B.C., reaching as high as number one for four weeks, the Ice proved themselves worthy of that ranking at the provincial championships by reaching the Final Four.
– Mark Isfeld Ice