Story and Photos by Erich Eichhorn (ISN)

March 2, 2013 Victoria, BC (ISN) – Some dreams were dashed, and others realized as two Victoria powerhouse AAA Boy’s High School basketball teams earned the right to go head to head for the Vancouver Island Boys AAA Basketball Finals crown with impressive wins Friday night at Mt.Douglas Secondary in front of packed bleachers of cheering fans.

In the early semi-final match, Oak Bay, ranked ninth in the province, taking on the north island champion Cowichan Thunderbirds. Oak Bay, with a gritty style of defense, and well-rounded shooting from their starting line-up would jump out to an early 18-8 lead in the first period and never look back, as the Bays would dominate the T-Birds with a final 67-37 win.

The Bays #6 Matt Gray would score a game-high 14 points to cap an all-team performance where ten out of twelve players would find the score sheet for the Bays win. Andrew Larson of the Thunderbirds would score team high nine points in a loosing effort for Cowichan.

Claremont’s Alex Jordache shoots over Belmont centre Erik Spaven. Jordache would come off the bench to score 16 points in a 71-36 win – Photo by Erich Eichhorn ( )

In the late-night contest, Belmont took on Claremont in a rematch of the South Island semi-finals where Claremont held off a strong Bulldog performance for the victory. It appeared early to be a carbon copy duel of their last meeting as both teams scrapped for ball possession early.

Kane Johnston of the Belmont Bulldogs tries to ignite his team by driving to the hoop and passing to Christian Spaven in the foreground – Photo by Erich Eichhorn ( )

Belmont would keep Claremont close through the first period, trailing 12-7 at the end of the opening frame.

DR6F9525Belmont’s Owen Vaags has his shot rejected by Spartans #9 Caillum White during semi-final AAA hoops action Saturday night at Mt. Douglas High School Gym – Photo by Erich Eichhorn ( )

The Spartans would answer the bell in the second, as Alex Jordache and Mason Loewen found their game and went to work on the Bulldogs defense. Scoring 13 of the Spartans 19 points in the second period, they would take a commanding 15 point lead with a 31-16 lead into half-time.

Alex Jordache pulls the ball down for the defensive rebound – Photo by Erich Eichhorn ( )

Belmont seemingly stymied by an aggressive defense and cold shooting in the third period would look to Owen Vaags and Erik Spaven for their offense, but the Spartans would prove too much. Belmont, despite the efforts of Vaags and Spaven in the paint, would see their hopes of a win slip away. 

#4 Max Cullen drives past Christian Spaven during semi-final basketball action Saturday night at Mt. Doug Gym – Photo by Erich Eichhorn ( )

The score started to tip in favour of the Spartans after two slam dunks by Mason Loewen bringing  the Spartan faithful to their feet. With a 51-28 lead going into the final quarter, the Spartans bench would finish the game adding another 20 points to defeat the Bulldogs 71-36.

Claremont’s Mason Loewen has his eye on the hoop as he slips two Bulldog defenders – Photo by Erich Eichhorn ( )

Belmont’s Kane Johnston ( blue ) and Spartans’s Alex Jordache compete for the ball and possession – Photo by Erich Eichhorn ( )

When asked how he would prepare his team for the rematch of the city final, Spartans head coach Kevin Brown would only comment, “… we play them tough, they played us tough, it’s about whoever comes out ready to play, whoever rebounds the ball, whoever takes the charge, whoever gets on the ground…” If that is to be a coach’s premonition, then the Vancouver Island AAA Basketball Finals is sure to be one not to miss.

Oak Bay and Claremont will playoff Saturday night at 8:00 pm in the Mt. Douglas Highschool gymnasium for the Island Championship and berths to the BC Provincial Championships.