Usman Tung and Sky Tan sure know how to make up for lost time.
A year ago they were on the outside looking in at the Richmond Senior Boys Basketball Playoffs. On Thursday, the Grade 12 standouts combined to score 50 points to lead the MacNeill Ravens past the Argyle Pipers and into the semi-finals at the B.C. AAA Boys Basketball Championships.
The Ravens breakthrough season will continue Friday (3:30 p.m.) at the Langley Events Centre’s arena bowl against the Vernon Panthers. It’s their first appearance in school history at the provincial showcase event.
Tung showed again why he earned the city’s MVP award with a spectacular 30-point performance on 11-of-22 shooting. He was at his best in the second and third quarters as the Ravens erased a 20-11 deficit after one and took a a 52-47 lead into the final 10 minutes.
It was back on Feb. 15 when they suffered a 32-point loss to Richmond High in the city final. They responded to the adversity by finishing second at last week’s Lower Mainland Championships and have continued on at the LEC — defeating Robert Bateman in the opening round to set the stage for the quarter-final win.
“When you get blown out in the city final there is nothing to lose anymore,” said Tung. “We have been at our lowest and now we are just looking up and hoping to do better. Today was a great team win.”
Sky had a big part in the MacNeill comeback too as he heated up from the perimeter to hit five three-pointers with much of his damage done in the second half.
“The last six games I haven't been able to hit anything,” smiled the city first-team all-star. “I also had a streak where I went pretty well so I guess I’m just going back into that rhythm again. I timed it right.”
Both players were quick to credit the contributions of the Ravens’ expanded roster now that the junior team’s season is concluded. Grade 9 Everett Swaim is playing well beyond his years, scoring eight points. It has stretched the Ravens’ rotation and giving their opponents different looks.
They finished Thursday’s game with two Grade 12s (Tung and Tan), a Grade 11 (Hudson Swaim), a Grade 10 (Jackson Thackwray) and a Grade 9 (Everett) on the floor.
“Everyone has bought into our program, from Grade 8 to Grade 12, even our coaching staff,” said assistant coach Landon Dy. “Come playoffs, they had to to stay at their levels but after that we knew we can bring everyone up. They practice all year together in the same group. Our Grade 9 is one of the most composed guys out there.
“It’s a great feeling. I’m out of words right now. The boys played well and they stuck to the game plan. Now we are going to the arena!
“I remember graduating from this school 10 years ago and we couldn’t even make to the Lower Mainlands and here we are.”
At the buzzer…
The city’s other entry in the tournament — Steveston-London Sharks — bounced back from an opening round loss to Chilliwack's GW Graham to defeat Caledonia (Terrace) 62-59. Ethan Wight had 27. Marco Wong chipped in with 14. The Sharks continue consolation play Friday against Byrne Creek in a rematch of the Lower Mainland third place game played a week earlier.