Claremont Tops SMUS in 2017-2018 High School Basketball Season Opener

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SMUS guard Ty Olynyk (4) drives to get past the defence of Claremont's Reid Matthews (21) in opening night action of the Senior Boys Basketball Tier 1 Division. Claremont would emerge with a 56-31 win over SMUS (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

December 5, 2017, Victoria BC (ISN) – The 2017-2018 South Island Senior Boys High School Basketball season began on a number of fronts Tuesday, with the Claremont Spartans thumping the St. Michael’s University (SMUS) Blue Jags 56-31 at the SMUS gym in Saanich, in one of five games played across the region.

Claremont's Nik Babaeff (12) would score 10 against SMUS in the 56-31 Spartans win (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Claremont’s Nik Babaeff (12) would score 10 against SMUS in the 56-31 Spartans win (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Both the AAAA Spartans and the AA Blue Jags are competing in South Island Tier 1 league, featuring the elite Senior Boy’s programs, including perennial powerhouses Oak Bay and Belmont, as well as Lambrick Park and new this year, the Mount Douglas Rams.  Missing this season from Tier 1 are the Parkland Panthers, who will compete in Tier 2 for league play this year.

Claremont Guard Dylan Smallwood (3) would lead all scorers Tuesday with 12 points in the Spartans' 56-31 win over SMUS (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Claremont Guard Dylan Smallwood (3) would lead all scorers Tuesday with 12 points in the Spartans’ 56-31 win over SMUS (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Pre-Season polls show Oak Bay and Belmont ranked one-two in the 4A Boys Island rankings with the Spartans ranked third, while the re-building Blue Jags, who lost a number of key players to graduation last season, find themselves ranked fourth on the Island in 2A, behind Brentwood College, Shawnigan Lake and Lambrick Park.

With his hair mirroring the flames on the wall behind him, Blue Jag's guard Ty Olynyk (4) soars toward the hoop for a shot attempt in the first quarter Tuesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
With his hair mirroring the flames on the wall behind him, Blue Jag’s guard Ty Olynyk (4) soars toward the hoop for a shot attempt in the first quarter Tuesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Despite these rankings, it was an undermanned SMUS squad, starting the season with two players out of the lineup due to academic issues and another out with a season ending injury, that took the play to the higher ranked and taller Spartans, getting a key three-pointer from Ty Olynk to start their scoring and then riding that to an 11-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.

SMUS guard Ephraim Hsu (7) looks to drive past Claremont's Shak Nasim (10) early in Tuesday's game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
SMUS guard Ephraim Hsu (7) looks to drive past Claremont’s Shak Nasim (10) early in Tuesday’s game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

That would be the only bright point of the night for the Blue Jags, as the Spartans re-grouped to begin the second quarter, going on a 21-0 run and outscoring the Blue Jags 27-5 in the frame to take 34-16 lead into the half.

Claremont's Shak Nasim (10) looks to drive the baseline on SMUS defender Matt Hagkull (11) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Claremont’s Shak Nasim (10) looks to drive the baseline on SMUS defender Matt Hagkull (11) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Blue Jags shooting stayed cool in quarter three, as the Spartans built their lead to 50-24 at the quarter-break, before the subs came in to round out a fourth quarter that saw SMUS out-point Claremont 7-6 to round out the scoring in the 25-point Spartans victory.

Claremont's Noah Jefferson (9) heads up for two of his five points against SMUS on Tuesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Claremont’s Noah Jefferson (9) heads up for two of his five points against SMUS on Tuesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Leading the way for Claremont was guard Dylan Smallwood, with 12 points, eight of which came in that dominating second quarter, while Nik Babaeff also hit double figures with a 10-point night.

For the Blue Jags, Kelvin Wong led the way with eight points, while Duc Khuong and Olynyk finished with seven and six points respectively.

Claremont forward Ryan Sheridan (32) goes up for a shot late in Tuesday's game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Claremont forward Ryan Sheridan (32) goes up for a shot late in Tuesday’s game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

In other opening night action Tuesday night, in Tier 1 play, the Belmont Bulldogs defeated the Mount Douglas Rams 89-60, while in Tier 2, Parkland defeated Glenlyon Norfolk 67-61.  In 3A league play, Royal Bay crushed Edward Milne 81-37, while Victoria eked out a 65-61 win over Esquimalt.

League play continues this Thursday in 3A with Reynolds visiting Victoria and Royal Bay visiting Stelly’s, while the Mid-Island 2A league tips-off with Brentwood Bay visiting Gulf Islands.

League play continues in earnest with eight games scheduled for Tuesday December 12 and another seven games scheduled for Tuesday December 19.

Also upcoming this month is the annual Oak Bay Gary Taylor Classic that will take place December 14-16 and feature the host Bays, the Blue Jags, Lambrick Park and Belmont, the Mount Douglas Santa Slam Dec. 14-16 and the UVic Alumni Can-Am Invitational December 28-30 at the CARSA Performance Gym at UVic.

See more photos from the Claremont and SMUS game by Christian J. Stewart at http://christianjstewart.zenfolio.com/p406600718

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