Their season concluded where every boys high school basketball team in BC hopes to be on the final day — standing on the arena bowl floor at the Langley Events Centre.
The MacNeill Ravens wrapped up a most-memorable four month journey by falling 75-54 to the Duchess Park Condors in the third place game on Saturday morning at the BC AAA Championships. The result came on the heels of a semi-final loss 24 hours earlier to the Vernon Panthers but really the Ravens were playing with “house money” on the final two days of a tournament they had never been to.
This is a team that began the season just hoping to make its first-ever appearance in the Lower Mainland AAA Tournament. Instead, the Ravens evolved into a fixture in the top 10 provincial rankings with a very bright future ahead of them.
Usman Tsung was among a group of Grade 12s that didn’t even get to taste the city playoffs a year ago. He finished this campaign as one of the most prolific scorers in the province — adding a BC Second Team All-Star Team selection to his earlier Richmond MVP award.
The Ravens were simply in tough against a No. 2 ranked Vernon squad that played a physical and athletic style that is nowhere to be found in Richmond or even the Lower Mainland zone for that matter.
The Panthers went on to lose a 46-44 heartbreaker to North Delta in the provincial final and undoubtedly will be the team to beat next season with just one graduating player. Always looking ahead, the MacNeill coaching staff treated the 89-65 semi-final defeat as a lesson learned.
“With the (12) returning guys we talked about getting tougher and getting into the weight room. Again, it’s just a great experience for us,” said Ravens’ head coach Steward Siy who has done a wonderful job building this program through the years with Peter Thackwray and Landon Dy. “We want to come back here and now we know what we can expect. This should inspire them for the off-season.”
The Ravens were actually closer to the Panthers than the 24-point final margin suggests. They were within nine at the half (38-29) and closed the deficit to 10 on a steal and lay-up by Tung with just over eight minutes remaining. That’s when the Panthers pulled away thanks mainly to their dominant inside game.
Additional Ravens hardware included being named the tournament’s most sportsmanlike team.
At the buzzer…
The Steveston-London Sharks closed out their terrific campaign Saturday with a 69-64 loss to Fraser Valley champion Pitt Meadows. The Sharks went 1-3 at the championships but their appearance was a major accomplishment in itself after finishing fourth in regular season city play.