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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

December 17, 2015, Oak Bay, BC (ISN) – The 8th Annual Gary Taylor Classic High School Basketball Tournament got underway Thursday afternoon and the host Oak Bay Bays opened it in style, thumping the Belmont Bulldogs 97-57 in front of a packed house in the new Oak Bay High performance gym.

Oak Bay’s Myka Tang-Blumenschein (left) was running hot Thursday, scoring 17 points in the Bays 97-57 win over Belmont (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Bays were coming off a weekend in the Lower Mainland, where they won the championship at the Vancouver College Emerald tournament, defeating Walnut Grove 82-77 in the final, and perhaps they were experiencing a bit of travel lag, as the game was evenly played over the majority of the first quarter with the Bays holding a 9-8 lead with about four minutes to play in the frame.

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Oak Bay’s Matt Griffin goes up for two first quarter points against the Bulldogs (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

They would then wake up to go on an 11-3 run to end the quarter, thanks to some hot shooting from the likes of Caelan Scott and Myka Tang-Blumenschein, to hold a 20-11 lead at the break

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Oak Bay’s Madhu McConnell (3) soars to the hoop for a chance at two of his 11 points Thursday against Belmont (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Tang-Blumenschein would continue to have a hot hand in the second quarter, hitting a trio of three-pointers, as the Bays out-paced Belmont 31-13 in the quarter to hold a 51-24 lead at the half.

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This was a common site Thursday, as Oak Bay’s Myka Tang-Blumenschein goes in for an uncontested layup against the Belmont Buldogs (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Bays would cruise easily after that, leading 74-42 after the third and scoring another 24 points in the fourth to coast to the 97-57 win.

Leading the way for the Bays was the aformentioned Tang-Blumenschien who would finish with 17 points on the day. Jaden Touchie, with 14 points and Madhu McConnell and Aoi Yamaguchi, with 11 each, would also reach double figures for Oak Bay. Scott and Nick Mickleberry would finish with nine points each.

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Oak Bay’s Isaiah Romanow (15) goes up for a tough shot against Belmont’s Dontae Bull (22) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

For the Bulldogs, Ryan Backhouse led the way and led all scorers with 26 points, including five three-pointers. Dontae Bull scored 13 points and Jackson Leeder chipped in 11 in the losing effort.

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Oak Bay’s Kenny Ngwenya (5) soars to the hoop for a shot over the defence of Belmont’s Dantae Bull (22) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

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Oak Bay’s Nick Mickleberry (10) would have a nine point evening on Thursday, including this layup in the second half (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

In the second game of the day the top ranked Island AA Lambrick Park Lions went up against the second ranked Island AAAA Cowichan Thunderbirds in what turned out to be a dandy and perhaps a bit of an upset, as the Thunderbirds ended up pulling out an exciting 71-67 win over the slightly favoured Lions.

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Lambrick Park’s Austin Somers (8) soars to the hoop for two of his 33 points against Cowichan on Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Lions appeared to be in control of the game for most of its duration, riding the hot shooting of guard Austin Somers, who finished with 33 points, and holding 18-13, 28-27 and 54-47 leads after the first second and third quarters respectively.

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Lambrick Park’s Ty Schindel (23) puts up a shot over the Cowichan defence in the first half Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Thunderbirds did briefly take the lead at 31-30 a few minutes into the third quarter, but the Lions would build that back up and had a six-point lead early in the fourth quarter.

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Lambrick Park’s Tatum Montague (34) knocks the ball away from Cowichan’s Humza Khan (3) during first half action Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

That is when the wheels fell off and the Thunderbirds would capitalize on some Lambrick turnovers that came as a result of some poor passing decisions, to cut the lead to 60-57 with 5:45 to play and then tie things up 63-63 with 1:52 to play. With 1:33 to go, they would take the lead for good and finish with an 8-4 run to close out the 71-67 win.

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Lambrick Park’s Ty Adams (13) is denied on this shot by Cowichan’s Noah Charles (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

In other action on Thursday, the Vancouver Fighting Irish would have an easy time with Victoria’s St. Michael’s University Blue Jags, winning 76-54 while Sir Winston Churchill handed the NDS Islanders an 81-50 loss.

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Lambrick’s Martin Eckard goes to the hoop for a pair of points in the first half Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

On Friday, Vancouver College will now play Sir Winston Churchill in the first semi-final at 5:45 pm while Oak Bay will entertain Cowichan in the second semi-final at 7:30 pm. Lambrick Park and Belmont will meet at 4PM in a consolation semi, while St. Michael’s will play NDS at 2:15 pm in the other consolation semi. The Championship final is scheduled for 6:00 pm on Saturday evening.