The G.P. Vanier Towhees senior boys basketball team hosted the annual Gus Vesterback Tournament on Dec. 11-12.
The four-team event featured a mix of tiers: Tier 3 Maple Ridge, Tier 3 Howe Sound, Tier 2 Gulf Islands and Tier 4 Vanier.
All the games were competitive, although Gulf Islands were missing three starters, so were a bit short staffed. Still, they competed and gave the other three teams a game. They ended up 0-3.
Howe Sound was an athletic group, mostly Grade 11s, and unfortunately had to play two games close on Saturday, so were tired in their third game, thereby ending up 1-2. Maple Ridge won two games for second place, and the Towhees won all three games to take top spot.
The Towhees’ first game (and first home game of the year) was Friday night against Maple Ridge and legendary coach Ken Dockendorf (46 years at Maple Ridge).
“He has a very young team, yet they were predictably well-coached, and played solid defence against us,” said Vanier coach Larry Street.
Both teams had trouble scoring because of the two coaches tough defensive styles, and the score ended up 49-43 for Vanier.
Leading the way defensively were all five starters: Chase Hobenshield (12 points, 11 rebounds), Coen Leopkey-Johnson (11 points), Wyatt Strachan (10 points) and Tyler Knopp (eight points, nine rebounds).
Tim Wilson chipped in five rebounds and a few floor burns for getting after so many loose balls.
Player of the Game was Hobenshield.
Game two was against Howe Sound, an athletic team that played at a frenetic pace – lots of pressing, traps and a run and gun style. “They threw up 34 three pointers, and made eight of them,” Street noted.
The Towhees had to endure the onslaught in the first quarter and the score was high at 27-21 for Vanier. The second half was key for Vanier, and the starters got off to a 21-point lead.
Street began giving the younger players some much-needed game time, and it got close again. The fourth was the starters going away again, handling the pressure, and winning 70-62. “Knopp had an outstanding game with 26 points and 14 rebounds,” Street said.
“Big Chase, our force inside, had 23 points and 13 rebounds while Strachan had his best game as a Towhee with17 points, six assists and two blocked shots.” Player of the Game was Knopp.
In game three Saturday against Gulf Islands the Towhees played everybody liberally. “Many five-man shifts, and a fun game for all,” said Street of the 86-60 win.
Knopp earned his team MVP award for the weekend and Player of the Game with 38 points, four steals, and 10 rebounds. Hobenshield added 16 points and nine boards with three assists. Strachan provided eight pretty assists while Leopkey-Johnson tallied 10 points.
Next up for the Towhees, ranked #3 in the latest Vancouver Island Tier 4 poll, is the Mouat Tournament in Abbotsford, Dec. 17-19.