The Vanier Towhees went undefeated to win their 45th annual Towhee Tournament on Jan. 15-17.
Fans were treated to exciting games as the majority of teams were from the North Island, all level of tiers, so there were many local rivalries competing against each other. The farthest visitors were Edward Milne of Sooke and South Delta Secondary.
The Towhees began the weekend with a Thursday night tilt with visiting Edward Milne. “They were a feisty lot, led by Danish exchange student Frederick Moeller, a good friend of our exchange student from Denmark Anders Storgaard,” said coach Larry Street.
Street matched Storgaard with Moeller because he knows his game so well, and the move paid off. Vanier got off to a 18-0 start and started one of its tallest teams in years with 6’4” Storgaard at point guard (Brandon Balon was injured), 6’4” Tyler Knopp at swing, 6’6” forward Ty Edwards at the other wing, and posts 6’5” Bryce Olsen and 6’7” Chase Hobenshield. In the end, all the Towhees played equal minutes in an 84-63 win. Hansen scored 29 points with eight rebounds and Ty Edwards added 11 points.
Game two was against Timberline from Campbell River, and they were no match for the much bigger Vanier boys who won 84-37. Again, all the Towhees played equal minutes with Olsen scoring 19 points and seven rebounds. Storgaard scored nine points and had six rebounds, seven assists, seven steals and two blocked shots along with two dunks. He leads the team with 20 dunks. Vastly improving Knopp add 14 points, seven rebounds, and plenty of tenacious defence.
Game three was a semifinal against Kwalikum from Qualicum Beach. “They are a top ranked 2A school on the Island, and very competitive,” Street said. This was a much tougher game for the Towhees, and luckily the starters were fairly fresh since they didn’t have to play as much in the first two games.
Hobenshield played a fine game with 19 solid points on 73 per cent shooting, eight rebounds, and 100 per cent free throw shooting, the Towhees nemesis this year. Olsen added 24 points and 10 rebounds.
Playing important minutes in the fourth quarter, Darren Smith had three key steals, three assists, three rebounds but most importantly played solid defence. Balon returned from injury and handed out five assists, snagged three rebounds and had two steals. “His energy on defence is always contagious as well,” Street said.
Saturday night’s championship game was against league rival Dover Bay from Nanaimo, a very talented team who can all shoot well, attack well and are feisty on defence. The two teams just finished playing a big first league game last Tuesday, with Vanier winning by three. This game was equally as exciting and well played, with the Towhees prevailing 61-53.
The scoring was well balanced for both teams, but Vanier’s size paid off in the end. “We held Dover to 26 per cent shooting, and they were 4-for-19 from three-point land,” Street said. Olsen had 17 tough points, while Storgaard added 15 points, six rebounds, seven assists and three steals.
Knopp had an outstanding game with nine points, 16 rebounds, three assists, two steals and very aggressive defence. Hobenshield hit some key points in the last quarter and ended with 12 as well as eight rebounds. Unlike the first time these teams met, Vanier outrebounded Dover 40-32.
“An example of the balance we have on the team, four players were all stars. Tyler was a second all star, Anders and Chase were first all stars while Bryce was the Tournament MVP and earned the Nate DaSilva Award as Outstanding Towhee,” Street noted.
Next up is a big league game Tuesday against Cowichan from Duncan, always a nemesis.
– Vanier Towhees Basketball