It was close, but the St. Thomas More Knights got off on the right foot Wednesday at the B.C. 3A senior boys basketball championships in Langley.
Led by Cam Morris’ double-double, the Knights rallied to beat the unranked Nanaimo District Islanders 62-58 to advance to Thursday’s quarterfinals against Abbotsford (past the NOW’s deadline).
By outscoring the Islanders 18-12 over the final quarter, STM flipped a game where, despite its closeness, only saw two lead changes.
“We switched man-to-man defence and (EJ Escobedo) and Richard (Galicia), our two-guards, got up and denied Nanaimo’s big posts. It led to some big steals and just broke their momentum,” remarked coach Aaron Mitchell said of the second-half swing.
Morris scored 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as STM erased a 40-33 deficit over the final 13 minutes, spurred on by clutch shots from Edward Ju and Escobedo.
The Knights’ biggest deficit was nine points, but for a good portion of the third quarter the two teams battled bucket-for-bucket. STM tied it at 46-46 early in the fourth, and they took the lead with a 14-8 run, with Ju canning a key trey.
“We ran into foul trouble, but at the end of the day we got the job done.”
While Nanaimo proved more accurate, connecting on 50 per cent of their field goal attempts as compared to the Knights’ 35.3 per cent, the Burnaby school defended well and limited the opposition to just 44 shots -- 18 in the second half.
Mitchell expects a sharper shooting effort in the next game.
Escobedo finished with 14 points, while Galicia contributed 11.
The win moved STM into the quarterfinals, where they faced the Abbotsford Panthers.
Deer Lake Debuts at B.C.s
The Deer Lake Falcons made history on Wednesday.
The Single-A senior boys high school basketball team played its first-ever game at the provincials, and pushed it to overtime before falling 77-67 to Bulkley Valley Christian at the Langley Events Centre.
A private school for the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, the Falcons entered the tournament ranked sixth in B.C., while Bulkley Valley Christian sat among the honourably mentioned.
The two teams stayed within striking distance most of the game, with Deer Lake leading 32-31 at halftime. Tied 59-59 after 40 minutes, the northern B.C. squad took control and outscored Deer Lake 18-8 to advance to the quarterfinals.
For the Falcons, Xavion Fleary counted 17 points, while Quennel Anderson chipped in 14 points and tallied 15 rebounds. Adding 11 points in support was Taryk Prendergast. Pulling down a team-high 16 rebounds was Timothy Jakovac.