The Vanier Towhees senior boys basketball team played tip-off games this past weekend at the 2013 Saanich Slams tournament.
“The competition was definitely first class, and ended with a big high,” said Vanier coach Larry Street. “Missing in action was captain Foster Dewitt who was at the volleyball provincials.”
First up was AAAA Honourable Mention and definite top 15 team Claremont, whom Street considers possibly the best team on the Island. “They noticeably were better tuned than our Towhees, and the two Provincial team players were too much for our inexperienced group.
“Still, the boys competed hard, and the game was a good test so early in the season. The final score was 65-46 Claremont, with our Joss Biggins leading the way with 11 points and seven rebounds. Harry Li had 13 rebounds coming off the bench while Colton Derycke and Jordan Balon pitched in nine points apiece. Other than that, it was a typical first game for both teams with nerves abounding and many miscues.”
Vanier’s second game Saturday was against #1 AA ranked Lambrick Park, and Street said their 6’11” centre and bonafide NCAA prospect Matt Neufeld “was a real ‘load’ for our team,” although Towhee centre Bryce Olsen (Grade 11) did a commendable job on Neufeld as the game progressed.
“Again, Lambrick as a team had too many weapons – raining 11 three-pointers and getting plenty of close-in baskets by the big centre. Another very good team, and possibly even better than Claremont.”
Biggins again led the way with 14 points and seven rebounds, while Bryce had 13 hard-fought points and five rebounds in a 94-62 loss.
“Unfortunately, we turned the ball over 26 times and still were not comfortable with ourselves against top competition,” Street said. Derycke added eight points while Balon and Jakob Jungwirth chipped in seven points apiece.
Street said Vanier’s third game proved that there is potential within the group. Kwalikum was the opponent, and after a 20-19 lead at the end of the first quarter, the Towhees buckled down and play tough defence, holding the Kondors to only 19 points the rest of the game in a 79-38 victory.
Li had a fine double-double game with 10 points and 10 rebounds, but Street said the real hero was Biggins. “It’s been a few years since a Towhee scored over 40 points, and Joss poured in 44 due to his many steals (five), his rebound put-backs (six), his running the break, and his hitting numerous pull-up jumpers.
“The entire team, led by Derycke and Balon, focused on their team defence and kept looking for Joss in the offence. A solid inside game was also given by Olsen,” Street noted.
FREE THROWS The Towhees next tourney is Dec. 5-7 in Chilliwack … on Dec. 13-14 they and the Vanier senior girls co-host the annual Gus Vesterback tournament …