In front of a standing-room only crowd of 1,100 people on Tuesday night, the St. Patrick Celtics captured the school’s first-ever Junior Boys Basketball Provincial Invitational Tournament championship with an 82-79 victory over the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs.
The play is called ‘Game Winner’ and according to coach John Boateng, the first option on the play –Irish Coquia – had yet to make the shot off the set play anytime they practiced it during the season. So when Boateng called the play with the St. Patrick Celtics trailing by two points to the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs in the championship final and only 21 seconds remaining, the Grade 9 forward looked questioningly at his coach.
“We have run it several times in practice and he has never ever hit it in practice, ever, all season long, he has never hit it. When I drew it up, he looked at it me and I was like ‘you are going to hit it this time. You have to believe’,” the coach said.
The play calls for Coquia to come off a screen on an inbounds play but the team fakes the pass to him and instead sends it across the court, so it appears to be a broken play. But after another quick flash screen, Coquia finally gets the ball in his hands.
“But it is a tough shot because your running and your body momentum is taking you away from the hoop,” Boateng explained. “But today he had the clutch in him to make it.”
Coquia caught the ball, turned and fired from beyond the three-point line, hitting nothing but net. That proved to be the dagger as St. Patrick defeated the Bulldogs 82-79 in an absolute thriller in the finals of the Junior Boys Basketball Provincial Invitational Tournament. The championship final – played in front of a standing-room only crowd of 1,100 fans on South Court at Langley Events Centre – was held
on Tuesday night, wrapping up the four-day, 32-team competition.
The 161 combined points was a new record for points in a championship final in the 51-year history of the tournament, bettering the mark of 158 points set in 1992’s final when R.C. Palmer edged Carihi 80-78, although that game did require overtime.
“My coaches told me to believe, my teammates believed in me and I took that shot with confidence. It felt good, as soon as I released it, I knew it was in,” Coquia said.
Not surprisingly, the Grade 9 forward said it was the best shot he had ever hit and something he has dreamed about ever since he began playing the sport.
“I woke up 12 hours ago and I knew I had to be clutch. I knew this game was going to be hard and I had to hit that shot,” he said.
Tuesday’s championship final did not begin the way the Celtics would have liked as the Bulldogs raced out to an 11-2 lead and were up 24-16 after one quarter and led by 14 when they scored the opening basket of the second half. But the Celtics (who had just one loss all year back in November) showed their championship resolve, cutting the deficit to three points after one quarter at 60-57.
Video highlights: https://youtu.be/XACj0le44ZM