Jesse Crookes hits game-winner to earn Terry Fox first B.C. provincial title since 1994
NPH TOP PERFORMERS
- Ryan Sclater – 18 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists
- Jesse Crookes – 16 points, 3 rebounds
- Daniel Collins – 13 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds
- Trevor Casey – 10 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists
- Jadon Cohee – 25 points, 8 assists, 3 rebounds
- Paul Getz – 13 points, 3 rebounds
- De’Sean Monsanto – 10 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists
LANGLEY, B.C– Terry Fox Ravens guard Jesse Crookes had no clue how the final game of his high-school career would end.
Not until there were 3.4 seconds left on the score clock.
“I knew we had about two seconds left or something like that, and I just thought that I’ve got to shoot it – and I did – and I didn’t think it was going in.
“And then I was pumped.”
That was Crookes’ reaction after hitting the game-winning shot at the 67th B.C. Boys AAA Championship, defeating the Walnut Grove Gators 75-74 in front of over 4,000 fans at the Langley Events Centre (LEC).
Just moments before Crookes’ monumental jumper, Gators guard Jadon Cohee had given his team a one-point advantage after a tough bucket inside. Those last two possessions summed up the entire final, as both sides traded the lead during almost every trip down the court.
Walnut Grove had gained a nine-point lead, the largest of the game, with just under three minutes left in the fourth, and it looked like the Gators were ready to appease the hometown crowd.
But the Ravens were not the least bit ready to hand the trophy, the net-cutting, and the glory over to a team that had beat them three times already this season.
Fox fought back by putting together a series of successful offensive possessions, beginning with a three from point guard Daniel Collins, followed by a torture chamber post move from 6-7 Ryan Sclater, and finally capped off with Crookes’ dagger.
On Walnut Grove’s final possession, Cohee turned it over by being forced out of bounds as time expired.
“What just happened? What just happened? This won’t hit me for another month I think,” said Terry Fox head coach Steve Hanson just moments after the buzzer. “This is just nuts. Our guys just out-willed them a little bit at the end.”
Hanson, in his first year as the Raven’s bench boss, was a bundle of energy during his team’s semifinal win the night before, but became more composed Saturday, even as the tension rose to an incomparable level.
“I think I had one too many Cokes before yesterday’s game, but tonight I drank water and was a little more calm,” he said with a smile.
“Coach Steve is just… he won’t tell you right now but he is pumped out of his mind,” said Sclater, as Hanson cut down the final piece of twine from the winning net.
The championship is Terry Fox’s first since they won back-to-back provincial titles in 1993 and 1994. They had finished in the top six at the big dance 10 times since their ’94 ‘ship, even losing in 2000’s final against long-time rival Pitt Meadows, but finally received validation Saturday night after the 17-year drought.
Fox endured a season full of highs and lows, the lowest being a semifinal loss to the Gators in Fraser Valley regional tournament just two weeks ago.
“After the Fraser Valley’s, I wasn’t sure what to think about our team,” said Hanson. “I thought we could prepare better, and we put them through a week of torture with our week off, and just had to get them mentally tougher for this type of situation – and it paid off.”
Sclater, the heart and soul of the Ravens roster, was named tournament MVP after putting up 17 points and 11 rebounds, but it was his hustle and grit that solidified his name among B.C.’s finest.
Sclater used his pterodactyl-like wingspan to snag unreachable rebounds, snaked his way past swatting defenders for easy layups, and channeled his inner Dennis Rodman by laying out from finger to toe for loose balls – just like The Worm used to.
I think I could spend an entire day coming up with animal references for Sclater’s game, but regardless, the Trinity Western University-bound volleyball prospect was the best basketball player in B.C. on Saturday.
The night before the final, I asked Sclater if he were to drop 35 points, or a triple-double, or win MVP, would it change his mind about pursuing volleyball over basketball.
He said no.
But then after the final, he acknowledged that he might be the first MVP to pursue something other than hoops in post-secondary.
“It’s kind of weird. But I mean they had to pick somebody,” Sclater said with a big grin.
Another player who poured everything into this final was Walnut Grove’s Cohee. A 6-foot-3 tenth-grader who took over the game at numerous points.
It’s scary to think about how good this prospect will be when he reaches his senior year.
“Jadon’s a great player and this is obviously a tremendous experience for a tenth-grader,” said Walnut Grove’s head coach George Bergen. “To have this opportunity – I think he’s only going to get a hell of a lot better.”
Cohee scored 25 points and dished out eight assists in the final. The phenom even garnered enough attention for the Terry Fox fans to make a giant poster of his face, something that obviously didn’t faze the 15 year old.
It’s 100 per cent true that up until the final shot, this game was either teams for the taking. But Crookes and the rest of the Ravens know that on this particular night, they were B.C.’s best.
“It doesn’t feel real right now,” said Crookes. “I feel like I’m going to wake up in five seconds and it’s not going to be real.
“But wow, I’m just so excited right now. It’s a dream come true.”
Ryan Sclater – Terry Fox
1st Team All-Stars
Jadon Cohee – Walnut Grove
Ryan Sclater – Terry Fox
Jake Newman – White Rock Christian
Isaiah Solomon – Vancouver College
Trevor Casey – Terry Fox
2nd Team All-Stars
Cole Penman – Vancouver College
Trevor Severinski – Pitt Meadows
Conor Morgan – Mount Douglas
Cam Smythe – Sir Charles Tupper
Ethan McKean – Walnut Grove
3rd Team All-Stars
Milan Mitrovic – St. Georges
Kristophe Baerg – White Rock Christian
Mitch Goodwin – Kelowna
De’Sean Monsanto – Walnut Grove
Matt Blackaby – Pitt Meadows
Mitsu Iwai – Pitt Meadows
Best Defensive Player
De’Sean Monsanto – Walnut Grove