The McMath Wildcats senior boys basketball team is making an early statement at the season-opening Big Ticket Tournament.
The Wildcats have strung together three consecutive victories to advance to the semi-finals in the 32-team event. A 91-71 win over St. Thomas Aquinas on Wednesday sets up a date with the host Abbotsford Panthers tonight. The tournament concludes with the third place and title games on Friday, also in Abbotsford.
McMath began the season ranked No. 5 among 3A schools thanks to an excellent young group of players that finished second at the B.C. Junior Boys Championships last March.
A first team all-star at that tournament was Travis Hamberger and the standout guard has picked up right where he left off, scoring a team-high 18 in the win over STA.
The Wildcats opened their eight-team bracket at Killarney with an 82-72 win over the host Cougars, then outlasted Churchill 87-78.
Miguel Vargas and Hamberger each had 17 against Churchill while Rio Hutchful added 13. Hamberger had 26 in the Killarney game.
Four other city teams were also part of the Big Ticket Tournament.
The Steveston-London Sharks reached the final of their bracket at Thomas Haney in Maple Ridge before dropping a 97-77 decision to the Yale Lions. Earlier wins came against Windermere (94-55) and Sardis (81-61).
In a rematch of last year’s Lower Mainland AAA title game, the MacNeill Ravens opened their bracket at New West with an 89-77 win over Byrne Creek, before falling 92-68 to St. Pat’s. They closed out the tournament with an 87-46 win over Pinetree.
The Hugh Boyd Trojans were also in the New West bracket where they dropped a 78-72 overtime decision to Pinetree in their opening game. A 71-49 win over Earl Marriott followed before a 86-67 loss to Byrne Creek on Wednesday.
Defending city champion Richmond Colts joined McMath at Killarney where they went 1-2. They opened with a 73-64 loss to Lord Byng then produced consolation wins over Argyle (83-42) and Mulgrave (90-86).
On the senior girls side, McMath hosted their own bracket where they went 2-1. A 62-56 win against York House was followed by a 72-57 loss to eventual bracket winner Heritage Woods. The Wildcats then got past Argyle 65-52 on Wednesday, avenging a loss in last year’s Lower Mainland title game.
The Steveston-London Sharks were also in the bracket, finishing 1-2 that included a 69-49 win over Mulgrave.