Buckle up for what should be quite a ride through the Richmond Senior Boys Basketball Championships.
The eight team tournament tips-off Monday at Steveston-London Secondary with plenty of intriguing match-ups right out of the gate. While the unbeaten MacNeill Ravens are favoured to win their first-ever city title, the road will not be an easy one for them and, even more so, the other top contenders.
“It’s going to be really interesting,” said Steveston-London coach and Lower Mainland Boys Basketball Association vice-president Mike Stoneburgh. “If you lose one of those (quarter-final) games then you can’t lose again or you’ll be out of the Lower Mainlands. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
No team can complain about fatigue either with the league creating a one week break between the end of the regular season and the playoffs. It should mean well-rested teams and coaches having plenty of time to prepare for their opponents too.
The championships will conclude next Thursday (Feb. 14) with the title game at 7:30 p.m.
Here’s a look at Monday’s quarter-final match-ups:
#4 Steveston-London Sharks (7-3) v. #5 Hugh Boyd Trojans (6-4)
The Sharks enjoy home court advantage next week and have proven they can compete with any team after tight battles with MacNeill and Richmond High. Yet, it would not be wise to look past the most improved team in the city this season thanks to a strong Grade 11 core. Steveston-London cruised to a 23-point win back in December but Boyd prevailed 72-69 in the third place game at last month’s Bob Carkner Classic. This is the rubber match with plenty on the line.
#1 MacNeill Ravens (10-0) vs. #8 McRoberts Strikers (3-7)
The Strikers have enjoyed a competitive season and it was a win over Palmer that put them in the playoffs. However, this is a tall order against the city’s lone unbeaten team. The Ravens’ goal back in November was getting to the Richmond Olympic Oval for the Lower Mainland 3A Championships for the first time. A win here would be one big step closer for the province’s No. 5 team in the latest provincial rankings.
#3 McMath Wildcats (8-2) vs. #6 McNair Marlins (4-6)
The defending champions have certainly been battled tested, having played the entire season on the road with their gym under repair from a fire back in November. The Wildcats also lean mostly on Grade 11s that now have plenty of experience. Getting past the always hard-working Marlins will be no easy task. The teams met last week in league play with McMath squeaking out a 78-76 win. McNair is also looking to keep its Lower Mainland tourney streak alive.
#2 Richmond Colts (9-1) vs. #7 Cambie Crusaders (4-6)
The city league has a history of early season match-ups that have had a significant impact on the final standings. This year is no different with the 3A honourable mention Colts’ lone blemish coming to MacNeill back on Dec. 3. They ran the table the rest of the way and are poised to make a strong bid to return to the provincials for the second straight year.
The Crusaders might just be the most dangerous No. 7 seed in the history of the Richmond playoffs. They have been very competitive all season and captured the Southridge Tournament two weeks ago in South Surrey, earning honourable mention status in the latest provincial 2A poll.
The Colts prevailed 81-67 in the lone league meeting last month and must be wondering how was this match-up the reward for a second place finish?