IMG 7918

Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart

The Vancouver College boys team and the Oak Bay girls team won their respective championship games at the 25th annual SMUS Invitational Basketball Tournament on Saturday.

January 7, 2012, Saanich, BC – A fantastic three days of high school basketball action came to an end Saturday night with the championship games of the 25th annual St. Michaels University School (SMUS) Invitational Basketball Tournament. 
On the boys side, the Vancouver College Fighting Irish came up against a tough Oak Bay Bays squad, eventually prevailing 88-72, while on the girls side, the Oak Bay Breakers squeaked out a 56-53 win over Calgary’s Bishop O’Byrne Bobcats.
IMG 7748
Oak Bay’s Liam Horne looks for an opening around the close check of Vancouver College’s Cole Penman during final game action Saturday.
Vancouver College was making its first ever appearance at the tournament and given their performance, will likely return next year to defend their title. 
The Fighting Irish breezed through all their games with round robin wins over Calgary’s Bowness Trojans (99-40) and host SMUS (62-45), and then a quarter-final 93-32 win over the local Belmont Bulldogs.  That put the Irish up against Edmonton’s Strathcona Lords in the semi-final and the Irish had no trouble obliterating the Lords 101-56 to advance to the final.
IMG 7870Oak Bay’s Evan Woodson brings the ball upcourt against pressure from Vancouver College’s Erickson Evangelista.  Woodson would score 23 points in the losing effort.
The Oak Bay boys team had an equally easy route to the final with preliminary wins over Strathcona (73-38) and Edmonton’s St. Mary’s Saints (70-58).  In the quarter-finals, the Bays came up against the host SMUS squad and the much anticipated local clash ended badly for the hosts as Oak Bay prevailed easily 63-33.  In the semis, the Bays came up against Calgary’s Bishop O’Byrne Bobcats and used a 30 point performance by Kaz Kobyashi to prevail 73-56 and move on to the final.
IMG 7929
Vancouver College’s Isaiah Solomon sliced diced his way to 32 points to lead the Fighting Irish to their win over Oak Bay in the final.
In the final, the Fighting Irish led from the get go, as speedy point guard and eventual tournament Most Outstanding Player Isaiah Solomon sliced and diced his way through the Oak Bay defence for a game high 32 points in the eventual 88-72 victory. 
To the Bays credit, the 16 point differential was the closest margin of victory the Irish had in the tournament, and given that the Bays were trailing by 15 at the end of the third quarter, the Bays played the Irish pretty evenly over the last eight minutes of the game.
IMG 7840
Oak Bay’s Kaz Kobyashi kept the Bays close with some nice drives to the net in the first half and was named to the Tournament All-Star team.
The Bays were sparked in the final by some nice scoring drives to the net by Kaz Kobyashi in the first half of the game and by a 23-point performance from Evan Woodson, both of whom were named to the tournament All-Star team. 
Vancouver College’s Isaiah Solomon was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament.
However, the dominating play of the Irish’s 6’7″ Abu Khan in the paint, made the going around the basket very tough for the Bays as Khan often influenced or blocked many a Bay’s scoring opportunity.
IMG 7735
Oak Bay’s Evan Woodson and the rest of the Bay’s found it tough going to the hoop, due to the dominating play of Vancouver College’s 6’7″ Abu Khan.
Other than the second place finish by Oak Bay, the next best local team in the standings was the host SMUS squad, who prior to the final, used a 26-point performance from Joe Erlic to defeat Lambrick Park 60-49 and finish in 5th place overall. Other SMUS wins in the tournament came against Bowness (75-37) and Bishop Mahoney (78-64).
IMG 7673
SMUS Joe Erlic would score 26 points against Chris Fougner and the Lambrick Park Lions to secure a 5th place finish for the host squad.
On the girls side of the tournament, the Oak Bay Breakers found the path to the final very easy as they posted convincing wins over Bowness (72-33), Rundle College (58-24), and Lambrick Park (57-47) to take first in their pool.
IMG 7544
Lambrick Park’s Lucas Dellabough scored 24 points against SMUS Saturday and received a Team Award for his efforts at the tournament.
In the other pool Calgary’s Bishop O’Byrne also went undefeated en route to the match up with the Breakers as they defeated Claremont (45-39), host SMUS (71-29),  and Strathcona (64-58).
In the Breaker’s 56-53 win in the final, Danica Robirtis led the team with 11 points, while the Bobcats had 14 points from Jade Olayinka in the losing effort.