The Vanier Towhees capped an undefeated (6-0) North Island regular season by defeating Ballenas Whalers 65-56 Thursday night at Vanier.
Their reward is being North #1 seed at this week’s (Feb. 24-26) AAA senior boys basketball North Island Tournament at Wellington Secondary in Nanaimo.
The eight-team tourney will determine five berths (top four plus challenge game winner) to the Island championship. The Towhees open Thursday against NDSS (Mid-Island #4) and play continues Friday through to the Saturday night final.
Last Thursday was Seniors Night at the Vanier gym, and the talented trio of Brad Gunter, Trevor McGuire and Jacob Wiebe made their last game in the Towhee Nest a memorable one.
Ballenas, runner-up in the North Island, kept the game close the whole way. Down by 10 to 12 points the whole game, the Whalers went ahead by six points early the fourth quarter.
“That’s when Brad took over – blocking shots, grabbing rebounds, getting steals, making assists and scoring tough baskets, including a strong dunk in traffic – all in the last five minutes while having four fouls,” said Vanier coach Larry Street.
“With his typical warrior effort, Brad excited Dillon Robson and Mark McGinnis, who both made key plays down the stretch. Trevor came off the bench and showed his warrior spirit while Jacob Wiebe played his normal tough self,” said Street.
Robson finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds while Gunter scored 17 to go along with 13 boards, five assists and five steals. McGinnis hit for 12 points, five assists and three steals. Cam Hughes contributed six points and six boards.
Other teams vying for berths to the Islands this week in Nanaimo include host Wellington (M2), Brooks of Powell River (N3), Cowichan of Duncan (M3), Ballenas (N2), Dover Bay of Nanaimo (M1) and Alberni (N4).
North #5 finisher will play a challenge game with South #4 on March 1 to decided the final Island berth. Competing in the South Island tourney this week at Claremont in Victoria are Belmont, Reynolds, Mt. Douglas, Stelly’s, Claremont and Oak Bay.
The eight-team Island championships goes March 3-5 at Mt. Doug in Victoria. The top two qualify for the B.C.s; third will challenge second if they have not already met at the Islands. The Provincials go March 15-29 in Langley.