In the midst of the August heat, many of BC’s best ballers from the past, present and future headed indoors at the Langley Events Centre for the 12th Annual Hoopfest Tournament on August 13/14th. Among the eight teams looking to etch their name in the history books of the longest running indoor summer tournament, the Islanders had their sights set on joining Athelite and The School as back to back champions. As the tournament approached, confirmation (or lack of it) from many of the Islanders returning players led one to believe that this quest may not be achieved.
Two of the tournament’s newest and youngest clubs, the Columbia Bible College Bearcats and the University of Fraser Valley Cascades kicked off the tournament in what started as an up-tempo affair with both teams pushing the ball offensively and picking up early on the defensive side. Unfortunately for the young Bearcats, the Cascades proved to be too much to handle as they ran away in the second half with an 89-68 victory.
With only two of the four teams in each division advancing to the playoff rounds, all victories and point spreads proved to be of the utmost importance. The matchup that followed the Bearcats and Cascades featured a more traditional pace as the Runnin’ Rebels squeaked out an 87-84 overtime victory over Lights Out. Whereas the first game of the tournament highlighted faces of the future, this one featured two players from the inaugural Hoopfest Tournament as the Runnin’ Rebels Steve Lee and Lights Out Malcolm Campbell provided fans a glimpse into the past.
The present and future was once again under the spotlight as the Islanders squared off against Athelite in a matchup that showcased last summer’s MVP Elliot Mason and Quest University guard Theo Vandenekart teamed up against Sukhjot Bains and Miguel Tomley. With 24 and 22 points respectively the current and former Tamanawis Wildcats led Athelite to a 96-87 victory over the defending champions. But for fans of the Islanders, it would not be the last time they heard the name Vandenekart.
The final game of the first round brought another run and gun squad that appeared heavily favored to reach the championship game as SB Battle’s roster featured Demitri Harris, Emerson Murray, Jadon Cohee, Joel Friesen and Gabe Diggs, five players who could easily light up the scoreboard on their own, but grouped together could be downright illegal. Facing a young TRU Wolfpack squad, SB Battle launched a well balanced attack on route to a 98-69 victory.
Despite a 12-2 run early in the second half to take a 50-44 lead, the Runnin’ Rebels were unable to hold off the Cascades in both teams second game of the day, while the Islanders and Lights Out both walked away with W’s in their meetings with Wolfpack and Bearcats respectively. The biggest upset of the day came from SB Battle’s game against Athelite. While the victory itself was not so much an upset, it was the way the two time champions failed to compete. Trailing by as many as forty points late in the second half, the only highlight of the game for Athelite was a 39 point performance from Tomley, which in itself was slightly outdone by Cohee’s 40 points for SB Battle.
As the teams returned to the LEC on Sunday morning for their final round robin game, only two teams had a lock on a playoff seed, as UFV and SB Battle walked away on day one with an unblemished record. Facing a “must win” situation, Athelite dominated the Wolfpack to keep their playoff hopes alive, while the Runnin’ Rebels lopsided outcome over the Bearcats guaranteed a playoff seed later that afternoon. With only one playoff spot remaining in the Hoops Nation division, the veteran heavy Lights Out club needed a victory over UFV to snuff out any hopes of the Cascades joining the Hoopfest Champions list. Unfortunately for the elder statesmen, the road to the title ended with a 98-72 loss.
While there were a number of great performances throughout the weekend, one of the more jaw dropping individual efforts came from Vandenekart in the final game of the round robin schedule as the Islanders looked to knock Athelite out of the playoffs completely with a victory over SB Battle. Channeling his inner Steph Curry and astonishing all that weren’t aware of his game and even amazing those who were, the Quest University guard and Washington native, launched bombs from all over the court, regardless of his defender on route to a 48 point effort. As a result of the scoring barrage, the Islanders handed SB Battle their first loss of the tournament.
After a grinding affair against SB Battle, the Islanders kicked off the playoff schedule against the Cascades. Despite having to play after a short turnaround and limited break, the Islanders managed to keep pace with the CIS club. Awaken Manny Dulay. Following a modest performance throughout the round robin schedule, the fifth year guard caught fire from behind the arc with eight three pointers and a game high 30 points for a 97-94 victory, holding off a fatigued Islanders squad that had comeback from a ten point deficit throughout the second half and managed to take a one point lead entering the last two minutes of the game.
The second semi final featured a contrast in styles of play, or at least one that should have as SB Battle tipped off against the Runnin’ Rebels. Attempting to live up to their moniker, the Rebel’s inability to run with SB Battle led to their demise on both ends of the court. Facing a lopsided 79-46 disadvantage, the Rebels managed to salvage the second half by slowing the tempo of the game. Joining an already potent roster, Joey Haywood helped secure a return to the championship game for SB Battle with a 126-100 decision.
With the final game set and a new champion ready to be crowned, it was only fitting that the top seeds in each division advanced to the title game Sunday evening. Judging by the start of the game, it appeared as though the game was to be a rout as SB Battle jumped out to a convincing 30-11 lead, a twenty point margin that would continue throughout the early moments of the first half. Once again, enter Mr. Dulay. During a much needed Cascades time out, it was the senior guard who stepped in to do most of the talking, not Coach Adam Friesen. Following an inspired tirade, UFV managed to close the gap at the half to within single digits. The unanswerable question remains as to whether it was Dulay’s motivational speech or loss of Demitri Harris to the SB Battle lineup with a broken nose and two technical fouls, ejecting him from the remainder of the game.
Although severely undermanned, it wasn’t until the final two minutes in the second half that SB Battle would relinquish their control of the scoreboard as UFV fought back to take the lead and force SB to play the “foul game” hoping to regain possession of the ball with one final attempt to capture the title that eluded them a year ago. However thanks in large part to his tournament high 50 points, including fourteen three pointers, Dulay and the Cascades found themselves on the winning side of a 117-113 decision.
TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONS – UFV CASCADES
$400 CACTUS CLUB GIFT CERTIFICATE
20 GAME PASSES TO VANCOUVER CANADIANS
10 SUPPORT ALL SOIL T-SHIRTS
TOURNAMENT M.V.P – MANNY DULAY (CASCADES)
$150 CACTUS CLUB GIFT CERTIFICATE
1 PAIR OF BC LIONS TICKETS
SUPPORT ALL SOIL T-SHIRT
DRIVE365 FITNESS TRAINING PACKAGE
TOURNAMENT ALL-STARS – DANIEL ADEDRIAN (CASCADES), JADON COHEE & EMERSON MURRAY (SB BATTLE), THEO VANDENEKART (ISLANDERS), TREVOR SEVERINSKI (RUNNIN’ REBELS)
$25 CACTUS CLUB GIFT CERTIFICATE
2 VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC GAME TICKETS
SUPPORT ALL SOIL T-SHIRT
DRIVE365 FITNESS TRAINING PACKAGE
GET BUCKETS Youth Charity (for every three pointer made, $.33 will be donated on behalf of PROSPERA CREDIT UNION and Centrecourt towards the KidSport Foundation helping underprivileged youth participate in sport) - 347 three pointers made = $187.33