After a month of a flu virus running through the team, and some injuries to key players, the Vanier Towhees senior boys basketball team appears ready to rise that Pyramid to Success.
The team is playing better with a healthy bench and getting into game shape. Playing at the 16-team Countdown to Playoffs tournament at Brentwood College last weekend helped the boys return to form. There were seven mainland teams, and nine Island sides, all from different tiers. Another benefit was being able to play in what many consider the nicest gym in B.C.
Vanier opened the tourney against Reynolds, a triple-A team from Victoria, which was down to seven players and therefore tired early in the game. They made a quick run early in the second while Vanier kept running players off the bench into the game. Everyone played, and in the end Vanier won a low-scoring game 63 to 51. Peter Greaves led with 23 points, 11 rebounds and six blocked shots while Jakob Tortorelli scored 23 points and had three assists. Macyn Leopkey-Johnson had 15 points and was a fine leader guard. Cam Bell was his normal hard-working self with eight points, six assists and four rebounds.
The Towhees then faced Mulgrave College of West Vancouver, a top 10 team that’s averaged 100 points per game for most of the season. They had a talented point guard who ran the show for them. Vanier knew they had to not play Mulgrave’s style, and get back fast on defence. This was a very entertaining game that went down to the wire, and Mulgrave had the ball in the last minute a couple of times to try to tie. But Vanier hit key free throws, and won 76-73. Greaves scored 34 points, and had 14 rebounds and 10 blocked shots. Tortorelli added 19 points, and went 11 for 13 in free throw shooting. Cam Bell pitched in nine points, four assists and six rebounds.
Next up was a semi-final against the host Brentwood, a top 10 ranked AA school.
“Unfortunately for them, they came upon a bigger, more athletic Vanier group who dominated them right from the start with a 15-0 run,” Vanier coach Larry Street said. “Even though the half time score was 25-21, Brentwood couldn’t score in the second half, and Vanier came up with a solid 58-43 win.”
Greaves had another triple double 24 points, 14 rebounds and 10 blocked shots. Tortorelli had 16 points and five steals while Leopkey-Johnson had his best game of thje year with six points, nine assists and four steals.
In the final, the Towhees played Lambrick Park of Victoria, another top 10 AA team and the best on the Island.
“Vanier knew their work would be cut out for them, and had to outwork Lambrick whose skills were superior,” Street said. “Well, a great game ensued, and the two teams traded baskets throughout the game. Their best player, C. Scott, finished with 44 points, and that went a long way to winning this championship. The game was tight to the wire, with Vanier having a good look for the tie with 10 seconds left, but it missed, and we had to foul.”
The final score was 85-81 Lambrick.
“Still, an entertaining game, and one that proves that Vanier is back on track,” Street said.
Greaves bagged 33 points, 12 rebounds and 10 blocked shots. Tortorelli had 14 points and six assists while Cam Bell had 12 points and seven rebounds. He also went eight for 11 from the free throw line.
All-stars included Tortorelli, Greaves and Leopkey-Johnson.
The Isfeld senior boys team also competed in Brentwood.
The Ice lost to Mulgrave in its opening game Thursday. The Courtenay team was up 51-44 at the half, but caught a bad break early in the third quarter when they lost Zach Taylor. Mulgrave went on to win 98-83.
“We ran out of gas with six guys and we were bullied inside with no size to match theirs,” Ice coach Dikran Zabunyan said. “But a great effort from everyone on our team.”
Isfeld beat Reynolds of Victoria 71-67 on Friday. Temwa Mtawali led the Ice with 32 points. Mike Aguilar scored 11, Taylor potted 10 and Quinn Roberts added eight points.
John Barsby of Nanaimo could not make the game due to a highway closure, so Isfeld played an exhibition against the St. Patrick Celtics of Vancouver, the fourth-ranked triple-A team in B.C.
“Very closely contested until the final seconds,” Zabunyan said.
St. Pat’s won 87-81.
Mtawali again led Isfeld with 37 points, and Roberts scored 21. Mtawali was named a tournament all-star.
Isfeld’s record on the season is 14 wins and eight losses.
Isfeld’s next game is Tuesday against Barsby in Nanaimo.
Vanier plays a league game at Dover Bay Tuesday, and their last game of the regular season at home Thursday against Cowichan.
This will also be seniors night and we have nine of them,” Street said.