Oak Bay_BBall

By Lachlan Ross, Photos by Christian J. Stewart

December 19, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The 2013 Gary Taylor Alumni Basketball Classic kicked off at Oak Bay High School Thursday with four games of action.  ISN’s  Lachlan Ross was on hand to provide a summary of the exciting Day 1 action.

My first time out for the Gary Taylor Classic showed a good mix of athleticism and fundamentals from eight B.C. basketball teams that clearly came to compete. The Oak Bay High School run tournament – in memory of Bays coaching legend Gary Taylor, who won six Island Championships and two Provincial titles throughout the 60’s – celebrates alumni traditions and young talent on the hardwood.

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Oak Bay’s Timo Weimer goes up for the shot over Lambrick Park’s Curtis Darnell during opening game action of the Gary Taylor Classic Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The day opened with Oak Bay taking on Lambrick Park. The young Bays featuring multiple grade 10’s and 11’s in their core rotation lead the Lambrick Lions at half 42-34. Bays bigs Timo Weimer and Atlas St-Paul-Butler took advantage of Lions’ stud big man Matt Neufeld being sidelined with an ankle injury with St-Paul-Butler cleaning the glass for 19 rebounds on top of his 12 points.

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Lambrick’s Ismail Abdulahi drives past Oak Bay’s Matt Gray during first half action Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

Lions point guard Ismail Abdulahi kept his team fighting with multiple flashes of agility and athleticism, splitting screens and shaking off defenders before finishing in the tall trees. But another ankle would hurt the lions when Abdulahi went down in the third quarter. He would return to play and finish with 27 points, but the Bays sharp shooting 16-year-old, Myka Tang-Blumenschein, showed Lambrick’s seniors he can play too. The Grade 10 finished with an Oak Bay High 19 points as the home team advanced toward the trophy 76-66.

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Lambrick Park’s Mitch Bryan drives past Oak Bay’s Liam Finnigan during opening game action in the Gary Taylor Classic at Oak Bay High (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

Second game of the day saw Mount Doug and St. Michaels University School (SMUS) duke out athleticism vs. structure. Mount Doug got out to an early lead but SMUS Ian Hyde-Lay run press kept the Blue Jags nipping at Ram heels.

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Lambrick Park’s Mike Varley goes up for a pair past Oak Bay’s Cole Haddock during second half action Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The difference in this game was Rams face-up big man Ashton MacKinnon’s 27 points. For those who either haven’t seen him play already, or better yet may be guarding him at some point this weekend: he likes the mid-range jumper – and he’s lights out from there. Between MacKinnon’s soft touch and shooting guard Adam Benrabah’s 16 points, SMUS fourth quarter push through team hustle and Jason Scully’s hot hand wasn’t enough. Final score 76-64, Rams charge forward.

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St. Michael’s forward Jordan Lane tries to drive past Mt. Doug’s Marcus Davis during first half action of their game Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

Game of the day went to Vancouver College and Fleetwood Park. It’s too bad they met in the first round because both team’s play deserved a bigger crowd. Van College came out scorching on the back of McCoy Lum’s left hand, knocking down three triples in the first quarter. Combine the long-range onslaught with heavy full court pressure that left Fleetwood’s guards looking lost, the VC Fighting Irish went up 22-8 in the first. But as Fleetwood came out of their quarter time huddle, coach Nick Day’s words had hit them.

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Mt. Doug’s Ashton MacKinnon goes up for a jump shot over SMUS defender Jordan Lane during the Rams 76-64 win Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The Dragons big man Emeka Okuma worked the boards at both ends, finding himself in great position for second chance points. Okuma seemed to score every time he touched the ball and Fleetwood pulled back to 35-26 at half. The second half saw Van College’s solid team play and ability to knock down shots keep them in front, pulling out to as many as 15. Fleetwood’s Akash Grewal was hot all night with one of the smoothest spot up strokes of the tournament, but it wasn’t enough as Van College took it 74-60.

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Mt. Doug Head Coach Ted Anderson was a bit too animated for the officials liking Thursday, earning a technical foul shortly after this first half tirade (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

To wrap up day one, the Mennonite Educational Institute (MEI) played Cowichan. MEI showed their superior team play with beautiful ball movement to open shooters – and everyone on the court could knock them down. What kept Cowichan alive was their huge front line: six-foot-five Travis McDonald who has a nice touch around the hoop with both hands, six-four Tyler Hudson banging around in the paint, and standout player of the tournament so far six-five Josh Charles, who when he wanted did whatever he wanted.

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Mt. Doug Ram guard Marcus Davis puts up a shot over SMUS defender Jake Wilmott Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

Between Charles’ dunks and bullying blocks, he definitely wasn’t looking to make friends on the court. But what was most impressive was his passing game. Charles’ aggressive takes to the hoop came in spurts, but in the fourth he passed three Steve Nash-like assists in a row to rally his team back. Despite 31 points and probably a triple-double from Charles, MEI continued to make shots, holding their lead around 10 the whole game. MEI’s Josiah Allison scored 28 points, including four three-pointers to top his team, but it really was an all-around team victory finishing 73-59.

Second Round Friday:

Consolation Bracket:

SMUS vs. Cowichan @ 2:15p.m.

Lambrick vs. Fleetwood @ 4:00p.m.

Championship Bracket:

Mount Doug vs. MEI @ 5:45p.m.

Oak Bay vs. Van College @ 7:30p.m.

For more photos from Day 1, please see our expanded coverage HERE!