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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

January 16, 2016, Victoria, BC (ISN) – A busy weekend of high school basketball action wrapped up Saturday afternoon at St. Michael’s University School (SMUS) in Victoria, as the Rick Hansen Hurricanes and SMUS Blue Jags were crowned as the Senior Boys and Senior Girls champions respectively at the 2016 Victoria City Police Basketball Tournament.

Rick Hansen’s Manraj Benipal (9) goes in for a layup during the championship game against the West Vancouver Highlanders (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Gold Medal Game: Rick Hansen 78 West Vancouver 59

The Hurricanes, who advanced to the Senior Boys final thanks to a 70-59 win over Victoria’s Lambrick Park and a 56-54 win over Maple Ridge, defeated the West Vancouver Highlanders 78-59 in the final, thanks largely to a 23-point performance from Joban Pandher.

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West Van’s Nick Brady (12) lays in two of his nine points in the final Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Twenty-one of Pandher’s points came in a first half that saw the Hurricanes hit eight shots from three-point range, building a 16-8 lead after the first quarter and a 38-28 lead at the half.

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Hansen’s Ahman Dhillon (12) rejects a dunk attempt from West Van’s Grady Huskisson (9) during first half action on Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Highlanders, who had defeated Shawnigan Lake 62-51 and SMUS 54-45 to advance to the final, could never really get it going against the Hurricanes, despite a 21 point effort from Josh Pinton and trailed 57-45 after three and then were outscored 21-14 in the final frame, taking home second place honours with the 78-59 loss.

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Hansen’s Ahman Dhillon (12) slides in for an easy layup during second half action in Saturday’s final against West Vancouver (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

In addition to Pandher’s 23 points, Ish Birk and Ricky Kandola hit double figures for the Hurricanes with 17 and 12 points respectively. For the Highlanders, Pinton’s 21 led the way with Grady Huskisson adding ten and Nick Brady chipping in 9 in the losing effort.

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Hansen’s Manvir Sharma (7) motors his way past West Van’s Jack Bowkett (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Bronze Medal Game: SMUS 61 Maple Ridge 49

In the Senior Boys bronze medal game, the host SMUS Blue Jags, who eked out a 69-67 win against Cambie before losing to West Vancouver in the semis, had a 20-point performance from Ryan Hindson to carry them to a 61-49 win over the Maple Ridge Rams.

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SMUS’s Ryan Hindson (11) would score 20 points to lead the Blue Jags to a bronze medal win over Maple Ridge on Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Maple Ridge, who thumped Sutherland 62-34 in their opener, before losing to Hansen in the semis, looked to be in control of this game early, holding 17-11 and 29-24 leads at the first break and at the half respectively, but the Blue Jags battled back to tie the game 45-45 after three quarters and then outscored the Rams 16-4 in the final quarter to pull away with the win.

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SMUS’s Ben Keep (5) Maple Ridge’s Burke Brussow (51) battle hard for a rebound during bronze medal action Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Hindson’s 20 points led all scorers, with fellow Blue Jags Sammy and Lucas deVries chipping in nine and eight points respectively.

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Maple Ridge’s Tristan Coumont (44) puts up a jumper during second half action of the bronze medal game Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

For Maple Ridge, Burke Brussow was high scorer with 18, while Josh Solk added 15 in the losing effort.

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SMUS’s Ben Keep (5) goes up for the shot on Maple Ridge’s Kailesh Kumar (25).  Keep would be whistled for an offensive foul on the play (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

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Maple Ridge’s Burke Brussow (51) would score 18 points for the Rams in the losing effort against SMUS (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Senior Girls Final: SMUS 49 Pacific Christian 42

In perhaps the most exciting game of the day, the Senior Girls final, the host SMUS Blue Jags went up against their cross-town rivals, the Pacific Christian Pacers, and pulled out a thrilling 49-42 victory in front of a loud and boisterous crowd that packed the secondary gymnasium on the SMUS campus.

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Blue Jags guard Mia Roberts (11) lays in two of her 22 points in the championship win over Pacific Christian (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The win avenges in a way, the SMUS 78-49 blowout loss to the Pacers in the Gold final of the Christmas Invitational tournament that was held at UVic in mid-December.

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SMUS’s forward Georgia Haydock (8) is seeing double as she tries to get past Pacific Christian’s de Vries twins, Cassandra (13) and Jasmine (24) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Blue Jags advanced to the final thanks to a 45-38 win over Ballenas on Thursday and a 49-41 win over Mark Isfeld in Friday night’s semi-final. Pacific Christian’s route was a little easier, as they thumped Wellington 62-37 and then Rick Hansen 63-46.

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Pacific Christian’s Jasmine DeVries (24) grimaces as she comes up against the defence of the Blue Jags’ MIa Roberts (11) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Given the score in the Christmas tournament and their ease in the first two games of this tournament, perhaps the Pacers thought they would cruise in the final, but it was the Blue Jags who had other plans, jumping out to a quick 8-3 lead and taking a 12-11 lead into the first break.

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SMUS’s Leah Sparkman (12) would score 10 points in her team’s win over Pacific Christian on Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Pacific Christian would tie things up 15-15 mid-way through the second quarter, but SMUS would finish the quarter on a 9-4 run to take a 24-19 lead into the half.

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The Pacers’ Cassandra DeVries (13) found the going tough against SMUS on Saturday, scoring just a pair of points in the loss to the Blue Jags (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

A close third quarter saw the Pacers pull within two of the Blue Jags at the break, 35-33 and using that momentum, then vault into a 38-37 lead, their first of the game, early in the fourth quarter. SMUS then went on a 8-0 run to jump back into a 45-38 lead and then hung on for the 49-42 win.

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SMUS’s Mia Roberts (11) was effective in the backcourt Saturday, using her ball control skills to keep the ball out of the Pacers’ hands (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Leading the way for the Blue Jags was Mia Roberts, who also led all scorers, with 22 points. Leah Sparkman added 10, while Georgia Haydock had six for the winners.

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SMUS’s Aveen Glen (7) gets a hug from a teammate as the Blue Jags begin to celebrate their win over Pacific Christian (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Pacific Christian was led by Rachelle Easton with 17 points. Jasmine DeVries and Bethany MacDonald added 11 and six points respectively in the losing effort.