The Vanier Towhees open play at the 65th annual Vancouver Island Senior Boys 4A Basketball Championships Thursday night (Feb. 26) at Mount Douglas high school in Victoria.
After winning the North Island tourney this past weekend, Vanier is the North #1 seed and takes on South #4 Claremont at 6 p.m. The top two finishers at the eight-team Islands advance to the B.C. championships, March 11-14 at the Langley Events Centre.
On Feb. 19-21 the Towhees were at Alberni Secondary for the North Islands, where they opened Friday with a 79-68 win over perennially tough foe Dover Bay.
The Dolphins were without their best inside presence, Jeff Webb, the only real height they had to battle Vanier’s size. He was home sick with the flu. Early in the first half their other best player, Christian Wigmore, badly sprained his ankle and was gone the rest of the game.
Nevertheless, Dover’s next five played superbly in the first half, driving hard and finishing with flourish. As well, they were pests on defence which bothered the nervous young Towhees, who couldn’t make shots and were hesitant around the basket.
Dover led 40-35 at the half. In the third quarter the Towhees, after some soul searching in the half time meeting, played much more disciplined and cut the lead to two.
In the fourth quarter the Towhees began getting the ball to their bigs closer to the basket. The smaller Nanaimo boys started fouling too much and couldn’t stop the more athletic Towhees, who took over and went on to win by 11.
Leading the way were Anders Storgaard and Chase Hobenshield both with 21 points, and 12 and 11 rebounds respectively. Hobenshield also added six nice assists. As well, Bryce Olsen contributed 10 points and eight rebounds, Tyler Knopp 14 points and 11 rebounds and Brandon Balon four assists and four steals.
On Saturday, the North Island final featured Vanier taking on Cowichan for the third time this season. “After each winning their own home game convincingly, everybody knew this game would be very interesting on a neutral ground,” said Towhees’ head coach Larry Street.
The first half proved neither team was giving in since the score was 30-30 at the break. In the second half the Towhees came out strong and defended well, holding Cowichan to only eight points and ending the third quarter up 45-38.
“Then, the Thunderbirds imploded and for some reason started to foul hard, and lose composure,” said Street. Vanier scored only one more basket the rest of the game, but hit plenty of free throws.
Then one of the Towhees got hurt and another fouled out, and they were left with only five players for the last three minutes. Cowichan pressed and started creating turnovers, but kept fouling and the Towhees made them pay from the charity stripe. Clever clock management in the final two minutes led to a 60-55 win.
FREE THROWS Heading to the Islands, Street notes seeding “means very little at playoff time … anything can happen. It will be the most focused teams who will prevail.” … sportvictoria.com is doing live webcasts of all games … their website also has the draw to help fans follow the action …
– Vanier Towhees Basketball