Often an absence from one team means a great opportunity for another team to step up and take advantage and that is exactly what seven other teams did at the 13th Annual Hoopfest BC Tournament. While the field of talent was as equally as impressive has it has been throughout the tournament's history, the void left by Manny Dulay was felt by the UFV Cascades as they looked to repeat as tournament champions.
Kicking off the first game and first day of the tournament, the battle between two new teams, Toon Squad and FriendZone set the tone for the rest of the day as the early morning game required an overtime period as the first forty minutes found the game tied at 98 points apiece. After falling short of capturing his first Hoopfest BC championship last summer as a part of SB Battle, JC did everything he could to make sure his team had a chance to return to the championship game this summer as he put up an eye-opening 43 points to carry the Toon Squad to a 109-102 victory.
A retooled Runnin' Rebels squad found themselves with a relatively easy opening half against the Cascades, carrying a 56-40 lead going into the break. Despite not having Dulay to shoulder their offensive attack, the UFV squad still kept competing, using an 18-4 run during the second half to close the deficit to within six points. With a younger, more explosive and well-rounded lineup than last summer, the Rebels, led by Gerard Gore's game-high 26 points found themselves walking away with an opening game win 88-80.
On the other side of the draw, Lights Out despite being one of the older teams in the tournament, managed to squeak out an upset victory over the X-Falcons, a team composed mainly of Langara College alumni. After trailing by seven at the end of the first half, Lights Out continued to ride the hot hand of guard Jeremy Neufeld as he paced his team and the game with 36 points, including five three-pointers. Although the X-Falcons fell short, their well-balanced attack, which included five players hitting for double digits in scoring would be a precursor of what was to come.
The Village People may have been a new team in the tournament lineup, but the players that made up the roster were mostly familiar faces from the course of the previous twelve years of the event. Although the young TRU Wolfpack players managed to keep the game within a single basket 43-41 at the half, the experience of the Village People and Doug Plumb's game-high 22 points proved to be too much for the young pups to overcome as they fell 83-72.
The afternoon schedule saw a pair of teams improve their record to 2-0 as the Toon Squad and the Village People both pulled out single-digit victories over the Cascades and Lights Out respectively, while FriendZone and the X-Falcons improved their record to 1-1. With only the top two teams from each pool advancing to the playoff rounds, the logjam of teams that could potentially sit at 2-1 after the round-robin schedule would make for some very interesting and must win games come Sunday morning.
After a tough victory to close out the schedule on Saturday evening, the Village People were back at it early Sunday morning squaring off against the X-Falcons. Unfortunately it appeared as though the quick turn around had a huge impact on a number of Village People members as the team fell behind by twenty midway through the first half and struggled to close the gap. A team high 25 points from Joel Friesen, which included seven three pointers helped propel the X-Falcons into a playoff spot while the Village People would have to play the waiting game to see if their weekend would continue or be cut short early.
Despite a 42 point effort from JC, the Toon Squad found themselves falling short 96-90 in their final round robin game against the Runnin' Rebels. Although the individual effort was impressive, the lack of bench scoring hurt the young team as the Rebels depth proved to be too much to handle with eight of nine players etching numbers onto the stat sheet. The FriendZone were in need of a victory over the Cascades if they wanted to keep their playoff hopes alive. Unfortunately a lopsided 107-65 final tally favored the team from the Fraser Valley as six Cascade players hit for double digits while Aurel David and Gagan Sahota were the only two scoring threats for FriendZone who said goodbye to their championship aspirations.
Closing out the round robin schedule, the Wolfpack, paced by a pair of third year players, Mike Rouault and Joe Davis, held off a second half charge by Lights Out to pull off a 86-75 victory over the veteran squad. Although it was only their first victory of the weekend, it their point differential proved to be enough to grant the Kamloops club a fourth game, playing in the consolation matchup later in the afternoon against the Cascades.
If would be unfair to expect JC to once again carry load of the Toon Squad offensive in the opening round of the playoffs against the X-Falcons. Luckily he didn't have to. After being relatively quiet in the round robin, sharpshooter Manroop Clair came alive to help his teammate battle the heavily loaded X-Falcons. Ending the opening half on with a 24-12 run, the X-Falcons took an eleven point advantage into the break. Chipping away at the deficit throughout the second half, the Toon Squad managed to once again take the lead at 86-84, their first since the score was 34-30, however a pair of threes (very fitting in this game) and a series of trips to the free throw line helped propel the X-Falcons to a 112-102 victory and a spot in the championship game. While Cohee and Clair combined for 73 points, the X-Falcons countered with all five of their starters hitting for double digits, including 25 from Elliot Mason and 22 from Matt Madawan.
The second semi final was decided in the final five seconds by a thirty foot buzzer beater. After trailing by as much as 21 in the first half, the Runnin' Rebels managed to close the gap shortly after halftime as they battled the Village People for the right to compete for the title. Led by the Plumb brothers, the Village People managed to maintain control of the scoreboard throughout the majority of the second half, until the Rebels, led by Vlad Egorov's game high 41 points tied the game at 101. With five ticks left on the clock, the elder Plumb brother took possession of the ball just over the half court line and let fly, putting the nail in the coffin with a buzzer beating three for a 104-101 heartbreaking, yet entertaining battle.
Although a number of players participating in the championship game have either competed in or captured the much sought after Hoopfest BC crown, neither the X-Falcons or the Village People have their name scribed into the history books. After the two teams traded baskets early in the first half, the X-Falcons went on an 11-3 run to take control of the game and went into the halftime break holding a four point edge. Despite their efforts to chip away at the lead, the Village People fuel tank seemed to be running on fumes as the X-Falcons continued to stretch out the difference on the scoreboard to as much as twenty points midway through the second half. Paced by a game high 28 points from Glenn Ruby, the X-Falcons ran the game from the opening tip until the final buzzer sounded on a 98-80 final and the team's first Hoopfest BC Championship.
TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONS – X-Falcons
JOSEPH RICHARD GROUP TEAM GIFT CERTIFICATE
20 GAME PASSES TO VANCOUVER CANADIANS
10 SUPPORT ALL SOIL T-SHIRTS
TOURNAMENT M.V.P – Elliot Mason (X-Falcons)
$100 JOSEPH RICHARD GROUP GIFT CERTIFICATE
1 PAIR OF BC LIONS TICKETS
4 VANCOUVER WHITECAPS TICKETS
SUPPORT ALL SOIL T-SHIRT
DRIVE365 FITNESS PERSONAL TRAINING PACKAGE
TOURNAMENT ALL-STARS – Glenn Ruby (X-Falcons), Mike Berg (Village People), Bret McDonald (Village People), Vlad Egorov (Runnin' Rebels), JC (Toon Squad)
$25 JOSEPH RICHARD GROUP GIFT CERTIFICATE
1 PAIR OF VANCOUVER GIANTS TICKETS
SUPPORT ALL SOIL T-SHIRT
DRIVE365 FITNESS PERSONAL 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) - 343 three pointers made = $114.00