The St. Thomas More Knights put together a strong second half to earn a spot into the Lower Mainland high school AA boys' basketball championship final.
STM moved into the AA zone final with a 64-41 victory over R.C. Palmer of Richmond in the Mainland semifinals at King George Secondary on Wednesday.
The Knights got a pair of early treys from senior Mikey Carney in a pivotal third quarter and a threepoint dagger from Denzel Laguerta later in the frame that capped a runaway 19-4 stretch that ballooned STM's lead to more than 20 points.
"I think we just got into our game in the second half. We didn't play up to our potential (in the first)," said 6-5 forward Giovanni Trasolini, who had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the No. 4-ranked Knights.
Andrew Morris led all scorers with 18 points, including nine in the second quarter, when STM began to flex its offensive muscle.
Morris also contributed five rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots in the semifinal win.
After an even first quarter, STM got on the boards in a big way, dominating up front, including 11 rebounds off the offensive glass.
The Knights' defence also gained the upper hand as the game went on, committing 17 steals, including 11 in the second half - six of them coming from Laguerta, who finished with double-figure scoring.
"When we get into that zone and play to our potential, it's almost impossible to stop us," said Trasolini, who got into early foul trouble and was forced to sit for much of the first half.
The two school teams played to a 10-10 tie after the opening quarter and traded buckets in the second period before a late baseline three from Matteo Gazzola gave STM a five-point bulge with less than three minutes remaining in the half.
STM played No. 7-ranked King George in the zone final on Thursday (after NOW deadlines).
King George defeated Vancouver independent St. Patrick's 80-76 in a thrilling three-point-a-plenty overtime.
If STM wins, the team would enter the B.C. championships as the No. 1 Mainland seed.
If the Knights should lose, and St. Pat's wins its game against Palmer, the two schools would play today (Friday) at 3: 45 p.m. for the No. 2 zone seeding into the B.C.s.
If Palmer beats St. Pat's in the consolation matchup, STM would automatically take the second available berth into the provincials.
The B.C. AA basketball championships will be played in Kamloops from March 7 to 10.