Tough defence, relentless rebounding, and quick fast-break baskets was a winning combination for the Vanier Towhees senior boys basketball team at their annual Gus Vesterback Tournament.
On Dec. 12-13, three senior boys teams visited the Towhees Nest, and all three were sent packing after sound defeats at the hands of the hosts.
First up was Eric Hamber, a 4A school from Vancouver with numerous returnees from last year. “As expected, the Griffins were all over our team, relentlessly pressing and going after the ball,” said Vanier head coach Larry Street.
“A problem though for Hamber was that we have seen that now in three of our six games to date, and are finally figuring out how to handle the pressure.”
After a tight first half score (31-20) where it was the first time all season the starting five was playing together for Vanier, the game was broken open by a stifling defensive display by the Towhees and more togetherness on offence.
The game ended 85-45 with all five Vanier starters in double figure scoring. Brandon Balon had 10 points and spearheaded the defence, Chase Hobenshield 11 points and seven rebounds, Tyler Knopp 19 points and a superb effort on the boards with 17, Anders Storgaard had 20 points, nine rebounds and six steals, and tough Bryce Olsen topped the scoring with 26 points and seven rebounds.
Next up on Saturday morning was always well-coached Maple Ridge. Coach Ken Dockendorf (45 years at the helm) tried to get his team to slow the game down, and it worked for the most part in the first half, with Vanier leading 32-21.
However, the Towhees’ size was too much for the Ramblers who had trouble scoring and the score ended 64-46. “Doc made a point that he thinks Vanier might be the biggest team in the Province, and this is useful to know, but then again we must prove on the court we can take advantage of that,” Street said.
Olsen had 16 points and nine rebounds, Hobenshield and Balon had 11 points each and Knopp chipped in 10 points and seven rebounds. Storgaard added nine points and eight boards.
The third game of the tournament on Saturday night was against Reynolds, a 3A team from Victoria. The Victoria lads were again just overmatched by a much bigger, more athletic group from Vanier and even though it was a close game in the first quarter, the score ended 87-39 and all Towhees got some good minutes in.
For the third game Olsen led the way with 28 points while snatching eight rebounds. Three other starters had double figures as well: Storgaard (16 points, 17 rebounds and a thundering dunk), Hobenshield (13 points and 14 aggressive rebounds) and Knopp (12 points and eight rebounds). The Towhees out-rebounded Reynolds by 43 boards. Wyatt Strachan had his best game of his young tenure with eight points, three assists and plenty of energy on defence.
FREE THROWS Olsen was the MVP for his team … the Towhees are at the New Westminster Tournament this week (Dec. 17-19) where a couple of top-15 teams are attending …
– Vanier Towhees Basketball