Windermere secondary --- The season is on replay for the King George Dragons, but there is one track they’re determined to hear for the first time and it only plays at the Big Dance.
Last year, the Dragons won their first high school basketball championship in school history. Last night, they defended it. And, for a second time, they defeated the Lord Byng Grey Ghosts with starting guard Yoel Teclehaimanot, now in Grade 12, leading the way as the tournament MVP.
What they want to do next is keep their season alive with a winning performance at the Lower Mainland championship, the tournament that brought untimely end in 2016.
The city title, said Kyle Gerrero, “is an accomplishment but isn’t our end goal. Honestly, it doesn’t mean anything because we’re not satisfied until we go to provincials.”
In the AA/AAA senior boys basketball city championship at Windermere secondary Feb. 10, Teclehaimanot and Guerrero shared the lead of the points tally with 23 apiece, but it was Guerrero who nailed five straight triples in the third quarter to push a close game in to a double-digit spread and grind down the Ghosts.
Lord Byng opened scoring three seconds into the game as six-foot-eight centre Nathan Bromige tipped the ball for Peter Gibbons to rush down court for a fast-break bucket. Answering right away at the other end, Teclehaimanot dropped a three-point jumper, and just like that, the contest was on, fast and furious, with the city title four quarters in the distance.
Gibbons was consistent all game, scoring 17 points and adding assists and steals along the way. Byng big men Bromige and Declan Herbertson defended the key but the Dragons kept shooting fire from outside and built a lead as big as 20 points.
“In a championship game like this, whether we lose by one or by 20, we still lose,” said Byng head coach Kevin Sandher. “I thought let’s take some risks, start trapping and fouling, ad do what we need to do. The spread is 20, but to be 1, 20, 30, it doesn’t matter.”
The Ghosts will have to toughen their mental resilience before the start of a stacked Lower Mainland tournament that includes the no. 3 St. Thomas More Knights, no. 5 Steveston-London Sharks, no. 7 Byrne Creek Bulldogs, no. 10 McMath Wildcats, and honourable mention McNair Marlins.
Lord Byng is ranked eighth in B.C. in the AAA tier. They will fight for four Lower Mainland berths to the B.C. Championship.
“I said to the guys,” continued Sander after the loss to King George, “you do whatever you need to do for the next three days. We’ve got a long weekend and everyone deals with these tough losses differently, but the one thing I ask --- and I haven’t asked much --- but the one thing I ask is that they come back ready to go. To stay in the moment, be ready to push ahead because we still have an opportunity to get to provincials and to make some noise there. The hard thing will be putting this one behind us.”
In addition to Lord Byng, five more Vancouver schools are competing at the AAA regional tournament: the Gladstone Gladiators, John Oliver Jokers, Windermere Warriors, Tupper Tigers, Point Grey Hounds.
Three Vancouver teams advance to the AA Lower Mainland tournament. In addition to King George, the Britannia Bruins and University Hill Hawks will compete with regional schools for three berths at provincials.