LANGLEY, BC–With the game clock winding down and Pitt Meadows down by three to Churchill, the Marauders needed a miracle. Alejandro Canjura chucked up a half court prayer that was answered and sent the game to overtime.
After struggling offensively throughout regulation, Mindy Minhas hit a clutch jumper from beyond the free throw line to extend the Churchill lead and ultimately lock up the victory 67-64. Minhas posted 13 points, 16 rebounds, five assists and nine steals.
“Unbelievable…Goulet is one of the top coaches around and they hit that half court shot to tie it up…when we came in [to overtime] it was about keeping our heads up,” Churchill Head Coach Rick Lopez told NPH.
“Something really bad just happened to us and we got to believe that we can fight through that and overcome.”
Multiple contributors stepped up in different moments to lift Churchill over Pitt Meadows. 6’8 senior Jesse Mushiana worked extremely hard on both ends of the floor, registering 17 points and nine rebounds before fouling out at the end of regulation.
Meadows Head Coach Rich Goulet was well aware of Minhas scoring ability and elected to throw multiple defensive schemes against the 6’4 wing, including a box and one which had Hakeem Wawala effectively hounding Minhas.
“They played awesome defence you have to give them credit…words for Mindy was to stay strong, keep believing and trust your teammates” said Lopez. “Other guys stepped up.”
In addition to Mushiana and Minhas’ production, Matt Waraich registered 13 points, while Nathan Holz racked up a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds.
For Meadows, it was 6’8 Jordan Rich who quietly had a monster game, posting 32 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks on 12 of 20 from the field. Sebastien Marshall chipped in with 13 points, five rebounds and a game-high seven assists.
Winston Churchill had a strong fan base on hand at Langley Events Centre that Lopez believes gave the Bulldogs a boost.
“Having our fans and everyone supporting us made a huge difference…what a grown experience for these guys to learn what to do at this stage.”
Next up for Churchill in the round of 16 will be against the tournament favourite Walnut Grove Gators where they will take on a team featuring Jadon Cohee, Josh Mayorga and a boisterous home crowd in Langley.
“We got to move on now, we have the best team in the province tomorrow. We have to move on, and that’s what we’ve been doing all year.”