The full-court threat of Kitsilano's offence pushed the host Blue Demons to a 65-54 win over the Churchill Bulldogs Feb. 27 in a rematch of the Vancouver senior boys basketball championship.
Kitsilano coach Randy Coutts said the win, followed by another home win Friday night against Burnaby South in the Lower Mainland AAA final, could return the Demons to the top rank of boys AAA basketball in B.C.
Beating the Bulldogs was "huge," he said. "If we win on Friday night, which we hope to do, we'll have an opportunity to get either the No. 1 or 2 seed in the province, which is huge."
Provincial rankings from Wednesday morning put Kitsilano at No. 4, a jump from last week's No. 6 but not as high as the No. 1 rank they held for weeks at the start of the season. They are 25-5 after beating Churchill.
First or second in B.C. would place the Blue Demons at the top of the ranking heading into the AAA B.C. boys championship, which runs March 12-16 at the Langley Events Centre. Three Fraser Valley teams are ranked above Kitsilano: the Walnut Grove Gators in No. 1, the Yale Lions at No. 2 and the White Rock Christian Warriors at No. 3.
"Our first goal this year was a Vancouver championships, our second goal was Lower Mainlands and our third goal is provincials," said Coutts.
In addition to the impressive talents of Luka Zaharijevic and Justin Sze, Kitsilano has a deep bench of skilled defenders and scorers. Non-starters contributed 16 points against Churchill, and a rotating list of defenders guarded Churchill star Mindy Minhas, who nonetheless led all scorers with 21 points. Jesse Mushiana added 13 and Andrew Claur had eight for Churchill.
Cole Peterson led Kits with 14 points. Zaharijevic and Sze both had 12 and Noah Derappard-Yuswack had nine. Team defence made the key difference for Kitsilano as the Demons put a crimp on Churchill’s shooting. The Bulldogs went 21 for 71 from the field and five for 19 from three-point range.
Churchill plays St. George's 5:45 p.m. Thursday at Kitsilano. The winner qualifies for provincials and the loser faces a must-win game for fifth place. The do-or-die match begins Friday 3:30 p.m. at Vancouver College.
The Lower Mainland final between Kitsilano and Burnaby South tips off 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 1 at Kitsilano.