For the second time in five years, the Isfeld Ice won the Island 3A boys basketball championship in Campbell River on the weekend, while cross-town rival Vanier was third. Both teams, along with Carihi of Campbell River, advance to provincials March 7-10 in Langley.
With an opening-round upset of number two south Island Royal Bay, Isfeld set the tone for a positive tournament. Thaskani Mtawali scored 36 and Riley Fussell added 10. Mtawali was voted the game MVP. It wasn’t offence that keyed the victory but terrific defence that never allowed Royal Bay to score more than two baskets in a row, coach Tom Elwood said.
In the semi-final, Isfeld faced 10th-ranked Vanier, the North Island number one seed. In an epic contest that went into three overtimes, Isfeld prevailed 104-97. Mtawali led the Ice with 31, Allesandro Bovio had 21, Fussell added 16, Dawson Fox had 14 and Aiden McDonald 13. Fussell was named game MVP.
Top scorers for Vanier were Riley Meyerhoff with 31, Kyle Piercy with 29 and Levi Timmermans with 22. Coach Larry Streer said Meyerhoff was his usual “beast” on the boards with 17.
In the final, Isfeld faced North Island number two Carihi, which had twice beaten the Ice by more than 20 points each time. The Ice defence was again terrific en route to a 72-52 championship win. McDonald had nine, Thomas Green added 10 and Mtawali had 14. Bovio led all scorers with 22, and was selected player of the game.
Fussell and Bovio were selected to the Island first all-star team, and Mtawali was selected tournament MVP after leading the tournament in scoring as well as minutes played.
Isfeld advances to its fifth straight provincial championship.
Vanier defeated South Island number one Reynolds and Wellington to secure the third berth to provincials — their first time in 11 years. Timmermans was a first-team all-star selection, and Piercy a second team all-star.