The McMath Wildcats avenged their only loss in league play to get back to the Richmond Senior Boys Championship game for the second time in three years.
The Wildcats will take on the Steveston-London Sharks next Thursday (7:30 p.m.) at Hugh Boyd after a 74-62 semi-final win over the MacNeill Ravens last night.
McMath finished on top of the regular season standings with an 8-1 record but it was the fourth place Ravens (7-2) that prevailed 74-71 less than a month ago in the only meeting of the season between the two teams.
In that game, the Ravens erased an early double-digit deficit and took the lead for good in the fourth quarter. A similar script was unfolding Thursday until a pivotal McMath timeout late in the second quarter.
MacNeill had battled back from a 13-point deficit to make it 33-31 when the Wildcats closed out the half with a 9-0 run thanks to a trio of three-pointers. The Ravens would get no closer, with the lead ballooning to 20 points midway through the third quarter.
“We weren’t hitting (our shots) at that point. I told them let’s rely on our drives and then kick the ball out (to our shooters) and that’s exactly what they did,” said Wildcats head coach Jon Acob.
Travis Hamberger is enjoying an outstanding season and very well could be named Richmond MVP next week. However, the Wildcats can get into trouble when they depend too much on the standout Grade 11 guard. He finished with a team-high 19 points but the secondary scoring was excellent with 17 from Rio Hutchful, 16 from Miguel Vargas and 14 from Jon Downton.
“What caused some of those (open shots) was Miguel got some looks at the beginning at the high post and he hit those shots. That just opened other things up for us,” continued Acob. “We passed it out at the right time and it gave us some great looks. Our defence really picked it up too.”
“We are an athletic team and like to press. We wanted to make them think and put the ball on the floor.”
The Ravens may see the Wildcats again at the upcoming South Fraser 3A Zone Championships. They will play Hugh Boyd in consolation play next Wednesday and are expected to close out the city playoffs against the Richmond Colts to determine the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds.
Boyd, McNair, Cambie and Palmer will all be headed to the South Fraser 2A Championships that will be hosted by the Southridge Storm in South Surrey.