After countless regular season games and tournaments, we’re finally down to the top 20 teams in British Columbia. While the selection process isn’t perfect, and some very good teams will be watching from home, we’re still in for an outstanding five days of basketball.
Let’s take a look at some of the top teams and players heading into today’s games.
Walnut Grove Gators
Led by 2014 guard Jadon Cohee and possibly the strongest rotation in the province, the Fraser Valley champs finished the season with impressive wins over Yale and White Rock Christian. If Walnut Grove is to make a return appearance in the finals they face arguably the toughest road of all the top teams, and there isn’t an easy game on their schedule. They’ll take on the winner of Sir Winston Churchill/Pitt Meadows in their opening round game, and Yale, Burnaby South, and St Georges are all lurking on the same side of the bracket.
While the Gators hit some bumps in the road during the season, no team is playing better heading into Provincials. Add in the fact that the LEC is basically their home gym, and you can guarantee that Walnut Grove—and the Gator Nation—will be heard from this week.
Who to Watch: Jadon Cohee, Josh Mayorga, Paul Getz, Sam Shin.
White Rock Christian Academy Warriors
Although only their top six play heavy minutes, the Warriors all have well defined rolls and truly play together as a team.
This current group has been together for a long time and a provincial championship would be a great ending to their outstanding prep careers. It’s been a great run for White Rock basketball, and you can expect these kids to leave it all on the floor this week.
Who to Watch: Tyus Allen, Vartan Tanielian, Sam Ykema, Peter Spangehl, Matt Perrin.
While Yale was ranked at number one for a large portion of the season, they faltered a bit down the stretch suffering two losses to Walnut Grove. The Lions top two of Jauquin Bennett-Boire and JJ Pankratz will do most of the heavy lifting, but they will also need solid contributions from their role players if they hope to advance.
We’ve seen Yale play as well as any team in the province, and they have the ability to dominate on both ends of the court, don’t be surprised to see them make a deep run.
Who to Watch: Jauquin Bennett-Boire , JJ Pankratz, Abraham Falls, Jasdeep Gill.
Kitsilano Blue Demons
Kits overcame a midseason slump to finish out the year very strong. The Blue Demons have shown flashes of being an elite defensive team, and all the pieces are in place for that to continue: Justin Sze causes havoc on the perimeter; Luka Zaharijevic anchors the middle; Jon Kongbo, Stefan Sokic and Cole Peterson lock down the wings; and we haven’t even mentioned Tom Campbell and Noah DeRappard-Yuswack.
Kits has, however, been prone to lapses on offense and has had difficulty when the ball is taken out of Justin Sze’s hands. Also, Stefan Sokic has been a barometer for the Blue Demons, when he is healthy and hitting shots Kits is tough to beat.
Who to Watch: Justin Sze, Luka Zaharijevic, Stefan Sokic.
Burnaby South Rebels
If there is any player in the entire field that is a threat to catch fire and win a game by himself its Burnaby South’s Martin Bogajev. The 6’0” guard has picture perfect form on his jumper, and isn’t afraid to let it fly. South, however, won’t have to rely on just Bogajev as they have a ton of talent at the guard spots with Taylor Smith, Gino Pagbilao and 2015 phenom Jermaine Haley.
Big man Dejan Posavljak has improved the teams early season defensive and rebounding woes, and the Rebels are a definitely a threat to pull an upset.
St Georges Saints
Another team that faces a tough road to the finals, Saints will have first have to deal with Island champs Claremont before even thinking about Yale, Walnut Grove or Burnaby South. But, Drew Urquhart may be the most versatile offensive player in the entire field, and his teammates—namely Tylon Barker and Deklan Chung—have also shown the ability to take over games. Point guard Ethan Scott provides a nice change of pace off the bench, and there is no doubt that Coach Bill Disbrow will have them well prepared.
Terry Fox Ravens
The defending champs have lost a number of players from last year’s roster, but 2013 Trevor Casey leads a team filled with Grade 10 talent. If Fox can upset Kits on Wednesday, that could spark another cinderella run to the finals. 2015 PG Jomari Reyes has been improving all season, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he can do under the bright lights.
Other Players to Watch
Mindy Minhas – Sir Winston Churchill
Jordan Rich/Sebastien Marshall – Pitt Meadows
Mason Loewen – Claremont
Nicholas Jhauj/David Ahmad – Enver Creek
Tristan Etienne/Corey Hauck – WJ Mouat
Hayden Lejeune – Sardis