Burnaby South edges out Churchill in finals to win Telus Classic

Burnaby South grade-11 star Jermaine Haley was a force in Saturday's final vs Winston Churchill at the 14th-annual Telus Classic. - Brian Jones Photo

Burnaby South’s grade-11 star Jermaine Haley was a force in Saturday’s final vs Winston Churchill at the 14th-annual Telus Classic. – Brian Jones Photo

The Burnaby South Rebels held a slim 68-67 advantage over the Winston Churchill Bulldogs with about a minute and a half remaining on the clock in the finals of the Telus Basketball Classic.

At that point, I was sitting on the press row next to tournament director Howard Kelsey, and while his mind was most likely preoccupied with thoughts of post-game speeches and scholarship presentations, he couldn’t help but just sit back and enjoy the barnburner that was unfolding before him.

“This couldn’t have been a better end to the tournament,” said Kelsey, summing up in words what the writers around him, the fans above him, and the players and coaches in front of him were surely thinking.

Burnaby South used a huge fourth quarter from its grade-11 players to gut out a 77-75 win over Churchill in the championship final of the 14th-annual Telus Basketball Classic, held at UBC’s War Memorial Gym on Saturday night.

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B.C. ballers motivated after #1-ranked Findlay Prep puts on show in Langley

Kansas commit Kelly Oubre showed absolutely none of what’s tattooed on his right bicep against B.C.’s best this past weekend. - Ron Hole Photo

Kansas commit Kelly Oubre showed absolutely none of what’s tattooed on his right bicep against B.C.’s best this past weekend. – Ron Hole Photo

The Findlay Prep Pilots are not your typical high school basketball team.

Their 12-man roster boasts nine players with a height of over 6-foot-6 and chiseled 200-plus pound frames that seem to be carved from the tools of Michelangelo Naismith himself.

The Pilots have an impressive track record since the program began in 2007, with a list of recent alumni that includes current NBA players DeAndre Liggins, Avery Bradley, Myck Kabongo, Cory Joseph, Tristan Thompson and last year’s number-one overall pick in the NBA Draft – Anthony Bennett.

The talent that Findlay has cultivated and subsequently produced has been nothing short of phenomenal, and this season’s roster is no exception.

When the Pilots travelled north to Langley, British Columbia this past weekend to take on a pair of B.C. all-star teams as part of the second-annual Tsumura Basketball Invitational (TBI), measuring sticks were abundant.

In the two games, held on back-to-back Saturday and Sunday nights, Findlay beat the pair of TBI Selects squads with relative ease. The lopsided results were expected, with the prep school currently ranked as the number-one program in the United States, but the experience for everyone involved was invaluable.

For the Pilots, it gave them an appreciation for the homegrown local talent that B.C. offers, and for the Canadians, it left them with a sense of worth, and more importantly, motivation – in terms of seeing what can result from relentless hard work and an obsessive devotion to development.

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Jesse Crookes hits game-winner to earn Terry Fox first B.C. provincial title since 1994

Terry Fox Ravens guard Jesse Crookes had no clue how the final game of his high-school career would end.

Not until there were 3.4 seconds left on the score clock.

“I knew we had about two seconds left or something like that, and I just thought that I’ve got to shoot it – and I did – and I didn’t think it was going in.

“And then I was pumped.”

That was Crookes’ reaction after hitting the game-winning shot at the 67th B.C. Boys AAA Championship, defeating the Walnut Grove Gators 75-74 in front of over 4,000 fans at the Langley Events Centre (LEC).

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Walnut Grove and Terry Fox set to clash in B.C. AAA final

Everyone’s eyes were transfixed on Jadon Cohee.

The grade-10 hoop prodigy for the Walnut Grove Gators was absolutely torching the Vancouver College Fighting Irish, his young legs spurring him on to finish the game as the only Gator not to get a breather.

A humble 1-for-4 outing in the first quarter, then an eight-point explosion in second, Cohee began to turn heads as he continuously slithered his lanky frame around the tough Fighting Irish defence.

But the young 6-3 guard got quiet in the second half while his veteran back court counterpart Ethan McKean; who had quietly been having his biggest game of the tourney, emerged in the fourth and completely took over.

It was a McKean three, followed by a steal, and finally another three for the senior guard that put the Gators up 61-58 and effectively closed the doors on Vancouver College’s chance for redemption at the B.C. Triple-A boys championship.

“I just love it, I love the big game moments,” said McKean after his Gators had just beat the Fighting Irish 61-60 in the provincial semifinals on Friday, Mar. 15 at the Langley Events Centre (LEC).

“That’s what I dream about.”

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Elphinstone Cougars win first North Shore basketball banner in school history

Elphinstone Cougars guard T.J. Turenne tries to break down a New Westminster Hyacks defender during the opening round of the Vancouver and District Championships. - Brian Jones Photo

If you wander through the halls of Elphinstone Secondary, you’ll come upon a trophy case littered with various hardware, plaques and framed photos that tell a rather short story of the school’s past athletic prowess.

Walk in to the gymnasium and direct your eyes just below the yellow and black border that wraps around the beaten white brick walls and you’ll find a few more examples of the scattered success of Elphi’s sports programs.

There are North Shore championship banners for volleyball, mountain biking, golf, cross-country and track and field – but nothing to show for basketball.

Well that all changed last week.

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Abu Khan brings Fighting Irish third-straight Emerald Championship

Fighting Irish post Abu Khan tries to get up over the long reach of Terry Fox's Ryan Sclater in the finals of the Emerald Tournament on Saturday, Jan. 21. Khan was named tournament MVP, recording 29 points and 15 points in the championship game. - Brian Jones Photo

When the Vancouver College Fighting Irish devised a game-plan for the championship final of their home tournament, it probably didn’t involve taking the offensive burden away from their dominant backcourt.

Cole Penman and Isaiah Solomon, two talented lead guards who share the Irish’s point guard responsibilities just as well as they share the basketball, had been instrumental in Vancouver College’s first two wins of the 47th annual Emerald Tournament.

And even apart from Penman and Solomon – shooting guard and three-point assassin Erickson Evangelista had been the catalyst in a convincing semifinal win over Burnaby South the night before.

So why rely on 6-foot-8 Abu Khan to do all the work?

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Terry Fox and Vancouver College set to play for Emerald Tourney title

Vancouver College guard Erickson Evangelista knocks down one of his four threes during the Fighting Irish's 82-75 win over Burnaby South. Evangelista led all VC scorers with 20 in the game. - Brian Jones Photo

A look back at the second day of action at the 47th annual Vancouver College Emerald Tournament, and a preview for Saturday night’s final.

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