Story and images by Erich Eichhorn

December 19th, 2015    Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Oak Bay Highschool boys senior basketball team held onto the slimmest of margins to prevail and beat Sir Winston Churchill of Calgary 93-92 to win the 2015 Gary Taylor Classic championship held Saturday night at Oak Bay Secondary highschool in Victoria, BC.

Myka Tang-Blumenschein of Oak Bay drives past Vlad Zasmolin of Sir Winston Churchill of Calgary on his way to his teams championship win. – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)

It was a fitting match up as local highschool basketball fans packed the new Oak Bay Secondary School gymnasium to watch their provincially ranked third team take on Alberta’s reportedcurrently ranked 3rd place team.  Churchill, having two of the most talented big men in Alberta in 6’7” Kobyn Jopp and 6’5” Vald Zasmolin, and Alberta U17 team member point guard Matt Fullerton to run their offence, were sure to give Oak Bay a run for the championship.  With all the earmarks of a late season playoff game, fans were treated to and evenly matched, high caliber battle.


The Oak Bay Bays Senior boys basketball team pose with thier championship hardware in winning the 2015 Gary Taylor Classic – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)

Caelan Scott (19 pts) and teammate Madhu McConnell (18pts) led the way for the Bays, while Churchill’s Zasmolin would top all scorers in the game, shooting the lights out with 27 pts.

From the opening tip, the tempo was frantic, as both teams traded baskets at will. Defense not seemingly the priority early, both team would cumulatively hoist up a total of twenty-three points in the first two and a half minutes.

When asked about a late season, playoff-flavor like, pace was part of his game plan, Bays head coach Chris Franklin would correct, “ It had all the flavor of an “early” season defensive game where there wasn’t much defense played. High school players will do that sometimes when the get excited, running up and down the floor. I think once we attacked the rim, they realized that maybe they weren’t playing as good defensively as they could.”


For Oak Bay’s Matt Griffin no shot was uncontested as he is met in the paint by two Vlad’s, Zasmolin (rear) and Pierimarchi (foreground). – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)

The Bays, the smaller statured of the two teams, seemed content to fire away from behind the arc in the opening quarter, scoring 18 of their 28 points from beyond the arc, as all five starters would make their mark on the score sheet.  Zasmolin for Churchill, would make is presence felt from all points on the floor, burning the Bays defense with his complete game, scoring half his team’s first quarter points. The Bays would lead 28-25 at the end of ten minutes of play.


Churchill’s 6’5″ Vlad Zasmolin drives to the hoop for two of his 27 points in the game in a loosing effort – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)

Sir Winston Churchill would take a two point lead into the half 47-45, battling back in a 25 point swing to lead by the narrowest of margins, despite losing centre Jopp to an apparent ankle injury with less than two minutes remaining in the second quarter. Jopp would not return to the game.


Oak Bay’s Matt Griffin narrowly escapes the outstretched hand of Zasmolin. Griffin recieved allstar honors for his efforts – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)

Both sides would spar for much of the second half, neither team daring to blink for fear giving into a sizable lead.  Churchill would come out offensively flat to start the fourth quarter, opening the door for the host side. Oak Bay, like any successful team, would take advantage of the lapse, going on an 11-5 scoring run to go up 81-74 with minutes remaining. In a game yet to see twists and turns in the game action, Oak Bay would inexplicably show a mental lapse that would allow Churchill to score the next six points, pulling to within three points of a tie. Churchill would continue to press with seconds remaining when Manjor Hans would score from beyond the arc to end the games scoring. Time would expire with Oak Bay surviving with a 93-92 win much to the relief of Oak Bay head coach Chris Franklin.

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Vlad Zasmolin was virtually unstoppable in the championship game as he beats Matt Griffin (rear) and Madhu McConnell to the hoop – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)

Asked about his team’s championship performance and what the tournament win means for his team Franklin would go on to say, “ They (Churchill) have two very good players, the young point guard and Vlad, #13. We struggled with them all game, and tried to contain them better in the second half. I think we did a little better in the second half, but they (Churchill) were tough. They just kept coming back, and coming back.  We persevered. I’m very happy for our guys. Churchill is a very good team, and I am very appreciative they came out this year.  I thought it was a good game. I think this is just another step in the process. Step by step, the idea is to get better, and hopefully by the end (of the season) we are playing at our best.”


A packed stand of Oak Bay Bays fans erupt in cheer as the horn sounds to signify the Bays Championship 93-92 win – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)

For Oak Bay, this weekend’s win marks the school’s fourth Gary Taylor Classic win in the last six years.


In other action :

In consolation round action in the Senior division,  Vancouver College defeated the Cowichan Thunderbirds 86-77 to take third place in the eight team Classic.


Cowichan Thunderbird’s Noah Charles shoots the short jumper over two Vancouver College defenders in a loosing cause, falling 86-77 in the consolation round – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)

In the Junior division, the Yale Lions would squeak past Vancouver College 39-37 in a low scoring affair to take championship honors.


The Junior Division Gary Taylor Classic Champions – the Yale Lions of Vancouver – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)