There will be no 2016 Lower Mainland Triple-A banner in the St. Thomas More gym.
But what the St. Thomas More Knights learned in Friday’s 76-65 loss to Steveston-London in the championship final will be put to use next week when the senior boys team tackles its biggest test at the B.C. High School basketball championships in Langley.
No. 2-ranked Steveston catapulted onto the floor and led from the beginning, then held its own down the stretch to claim the Triple-A title.
It didn’t look good in the beginning, as the Sharks staked out a quick 11-3 lead. The margin would grow to 21 points midway through the second quarter.
That slow start by the Knights went against everything the club had demonstrated en route to the final, said coach Aaron Mitchell.
“Ironically our first two playoff games got off to great starts,” recalled Mitchell. “We were just a little tight and didn’t shoot well, while they were very solid.”
Down 44-27 at halftime, More picked up the pace and clawed back to put Steveston on alert, when Cam Morris pulled the Knights within nine points on the strength of a lofty three-point shot with 1:20 left in the third quarter.
The strapping Steveston squad responded with a couple of big shots of their own and maintained a double-digit advantage the rest of the way.
“We started playing behind their big guys and had to scrap for everything we got,” said Mitchell. “A month ago we probably would have laid down and lose it by 30 points, so it was a very good sign we kept coming back.”
Drawing onto the tournament first all-star team were Richard Galicia and Morris, both Grade 11s who piled up the points.
Picked for the second all-star squad was senior Edward Ju.
The focus now turns to preparation for what had been the goal all season long -- the provincials.
“We start four Grade 11s so there’s a learning curve, but virtually all our players have been (at junior or senior B.C.s) so its familiar to them,” said Mitchell.
The Byrne Creek Bulldogs, meanwhile put up a valiant fight for the fourth and final Lower Mainland ticket to the B.C.s before falling 68-56 to Lord Byng last Thursday. Selected to the second all-star team was Byrne’s Malik Holmes.
The draw for the B.C. AAA boys provincials, which begin March 9 at the Langley Events Centre, awaits the completion of the Fraser Valley tournament.