Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
December 15, 2017, Victoria, BC (ISN) – It will be a battle between BC and Alberta Saturday evening in the Championship game of the 2017 Gary Taylor High School Basketball Classic, as the host Oak Bay Bays and Calgary’s Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs were both victorious in their semi-finals Friday evening at Oak Bay High in Victoria.
In perhaps the most entertaining match of the tournament so far, Friday’s first semi-final saw the Bulldogs came out on top of a back-and-forth affair against the Vancouver College Fighting Irish, outscoring the Irish 15-4 down the home stretch to finish with a 90-78 victory.
Vancouver College held a 21-17 lead at the end of one quarter, but stumbled in the second and the Bulldogs took a 42-39 lead into the half. The Irish once again fought into the lead midway through the third, but a 5-0 run late, gave the Bulldogs the lead again, 62-60, after three.
It was a lead they would not relinquish and despite a valiant effort by the Irish to close the gap to 75-74 at one point, thanks in part to a trio of three-pointers from Cam Wright, the Bulldogs used an 11-point quarter from their own Pelumi Ajayi to go on their final run to close out the 12-point win.
Ajayi would lead the Bulldogs with 26 points, while Churchill’s Imodou Ibrahim and Julian Luai would contribute 19 and 17 points respectively to the win.
For Vancouver College, guard Jack Cruz-Dumont was their go-to guy, leading all scorers with 30 points, while Wright, with his 11-point fourth quarter, finished with 25 points in the losing effort.
In the second semi-final of the night, the Bays showed why they are ranked as the number one 4A senior boys basketball team in the Province, jumping all over St. Thomas More Collegiate (STMC) 30-9 in the first quarter, en route to an easy 76-31 win.
The Bays, who showcased their offence by scoring 106 points in their opener on Thursday against Cowichan, put their defence on display Friday night against STMC, holding the Knights to just seven points in the second quarter and three points in the fourth quarter on their way to the 45-point win.
Despite the lower offensive output against STMC, four Bays hit double figures on the night, including Caelan Scott who led all scorers with 14, Freeman Taylor and Riley Cronk with 13 points each and Diego Maffia with 12.
In consolation action on Friday, Jaden Bhopal scored 18 points to lead the Cowichan Thunderbirds over the St. Michaels University (SMUS) Blue Jags 78-60. Cowichan also had three other players hit the teens in scoring, with Brandon Reymerink, Pablo de Garaizabal Rafiq and Jeremy Perkins scoring 15, 14 and 13 points respectively in the win. The Blue Jags were led by Ty Olynyk who led all scorers with 19 points. Ephraim Hsu, with 17, Matt Hagkull, with 12 and Tristan Kuhn with 10, also hit double figures in the losing effort.
Also in consolation action, the Belmont Bulldogs topped their cross-town rival Lambrick Park Lions 74-51.
Saturday’s final day of action at the tournament begins at 11:00 am with SMUS taking on Lambrick Park, followed at 12:45 pm with Cowichan taking on Belmont in the consolation final.
The bronze medal game between Vancouver College and STMC tips-off at 2:30 pm, while the Championship Final between the Bays and Sir Winston Churchill begins at 6:00 pm.
The Gary Taylor main court will also be host to the Junior Final at 4:15 pm on Saturday.