British Columbia Stamps Ticket to U15 Finals
TORONTO, ON–In a showdown between two fairly evenly matched teams, Manitoba and BC squared off in semi-finals on the U15 side. Both teams featured speedy ball handlers, but they lacked the interior presence necessary to take over the game. It was a see-saw battle the entire game, with BC holding a slim lead throughout. They ended up squeaking by with a 60-55 win as they held off a late charge from Manitoba.
“We were concerned with their guards,” said BC coach Mike Morgan. “They play like grown men.”
At the half, BC led a by a score of 30-24. BC’s 5’10 PG Jalen Jana anchored the attack for BC, as the lead guard ran the offence in his typical calm and collected fashion. While somewhat undersized, Jana has been able to keep the BC team in check all tournament long and has shown up as one of the few true point guards on the U15 side of the event. He calmed the team down late in the game when things began to unravel, and he worked alongside guard Adam Karmali and Gurjit Pooni to gain control.
Jana finished with 11 points for British Colmbia.
Joseph Medrano was up to his old tricks for Manitoba. The diminutive, yet speedy, combo guard led the team on both sides of the floor with his relentless play. His non-stop engine allowed him to play pressure defence on one end, while still having the energy to run the point and break down defenders when he had the ball in his hands. He finished the game with 13 points and four boards, and if there were a way to quantify tireless effort, he would rank off the charts.
BC started to pull away in the third quarter, as they built their lead up to double digits, and Manitoba struggled to find their stroke. But a few key steals and transition buckets helped Manitoba cut the lead late in the third quarter. The small crowd was noticeably pro-Manitoba, and it seemed like their support buoyed on their team as they worked their way back into the game.
In the end, BC proved to be too big for their competiition, as they look ahead for a re-match against a mighty Ontario squad.
“My players are great at the post game,” said Morgan. “They take it seriously and are looking forward to getting another shot at Ontario.”
Both teams knew coming into this game that the winner would go on to face the force that is Team Ontario, so you could say that these two teams were fighting it out for second place. No one has even given the hosts a scare thus far, so both BC and Manitoba knew that this would likely be their last competitive game of the tournament. So they left everything on the floor, and battled for every last point.
“We have great respect for Ontario, just like every other team.” said coach Morgan. “They have some special kids on the team.”
If BC is to have any chance against Team O, they will have to play picture perfect defence while executing at a very high rate offensively.
Brayden Belleville: 14 points, 9 rebounds
Adam Karmali: 14 points, 2 assists, 3 steals
Jalen Jana: 11 points, 3 rebounds
Joseph Medrano: 13 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists
Benjamin Miller: 13 points, 5 rebounds