Who knew Colts would be so comfortable in a Shark Tank?
For the second straight year Richmond High has won a big playoff championship in the Steveston-London Secondary gym and this time it was against the odds.
After needing to win a play-in game just to be part of the inaugural South Fraser 3A Boys Basketball Championships, the Colts proceeded to have a monster week — capped by a 70-64 victory over the MacNeill Ravens in Friday’s title game played in front of a capacity crowd. Both teams are off to the BC 3A Championships starting on Wednesday at the Langley Events Centre.
Richmond High held off the Delta Pacers 84-77 in last Monday’s South Fraser qualifier, then served notice 24 hours later with an impressive 76-58 victory over Sur-Del League champion North Delta Huskies. A BC berth was clinched in Wednesday’s thrilling come-from-behind double overtime 84-81 win over the Steveston-London Sharks.
The run was completed with an entertaining victory against the Ravens that fittingly reflected the parity in the Richmond Senior League this season with a tight battle from start to finish.
Dating back to last year’s city championship, the Colts have now won eight consecutive playoff games at Steveston-London. This triumph came on the heels of finishing third in Richmond League play then fourth in the city playoffs after losing 80-69 to MacNeill in the third place game played a week ago.
“We began fighting for our lives and the whole week has been just insane,” said first-year head coach Fayyaz Tejani.”There were times in the season where our guys thought it was going to be over then they found that dog in them.”
The win over Delta was sloppy at times but also provided much-needed momentum. The Colts then stunned the Huskies with a big second quarter and never trailed by more than 13 points the rest of the way. Their win against the Sharks was the first in three tries this season, including a 75-65 defeat in the city semi-finals.
Helping their cause has been the players better understanding their roles — from the inside and outside scoring ability of impressive Arminas Ilciukas, the three-point shooting of Jonathan Hu to the post presence of 6-foot-6 Lazar Stanojevic, who blocked three shots in the final two minutes Friday.
“The biggest thing that has changed honestly is at the beginning of the season we were very hungry to score and my team just fell in love with the threes,” added Tejani. “Towards the end of the season and going into the playoffs, these guys put defence as a priority and it showed tonight.”
It was still a terrific week for a Ravens team that defeated Guildford Park then city champion McMath for the second time this season to secure a return trip to Langley.
“We are still fairly young so it’s a lot of learning and it’s a growing experience for us,” said MacNeill head coach Steward Siy. “This again was a good experience for us tonight and we are close. We are getting there. We will just keep getting better from it.”
Hu earned tournament MVP honours while teammates Ilciukas and Stanojevic were all-stars. They were joined by MacNeill’s Tanner Devlin and Everett Swaim, along with Steveston-London’s Jhonelle Dela Cruz.