The venue may have changed but the X-Falcons did their best to make sure that the title of champions did not as the 14th Annual Hoopfest Tournament welcomed a number of new competitors seeking the crown. After seven years at the Langley Events Centre, the tournament returned to a more grassroots setting, moving to Semihamoo Secondary in South Surrey.
Despite missing a number of their teammates due to injury, the UFV Cascades still had plenty of firepower in their lineup, including Sukhjot Bains, who recently signed with the Canadian University after spending time in the NCAA ranks. Taking on the Marauders Air Force in the first game of the weekend, the Cascades found themselves facing a halftime deficit as Kyle Watson and Graeme McCallum helped pilot the Air Force to a 48-42 lead. However a trio of three pointers from Jordyn Sekhon and 17 second half points from Bains helped the Cascades mount a comeback from as much as eleven points to squeak out a 100-99 victory to set the tone for the rest of the weekend.
The second game of the morning featured a battle between one of the oldest team's in the tournament, the Runnin' Rebels and the youngest, the Langara Falcons. Although the Rebels had two of the greatest names to suit up on BC hardwood in Axel Christiansen and Randy Nohr, the Falcons didn't back down from the challenge, keeping the game within single digits throughout the first half. As hard as the Falcons fought to keep the game within a respectable distance, the size and veteran savvy of the Rebels proved to be too much as they finished the game with a 90-77 victory.
Although a new team to the tournament, the Mixed Panthers featured a number of familiar faces in the basketball community including Jadon Cohee and Ty Rowell. Taking on the TRU Wolfpack in their first game of their respective schedules, the Panthers relied heavily on the newest member of the UBC Thunderbirds to pull out an 84-82 victory in the final minutes of a game that the Panthers were leading by as many as 17 midway through the second half. Scoring nearly half of his team's points with a game high 40, Cohee and the Panthers managed to hold off a late surge by the Wolfpack to kick off their weekend.
After claiming victory in the 33rd Annual Dolphin Classic just a month prior, the X-Falcons returned to stamp their name on their second straight Hoopfest championship, kicking off their schedule against Lights Out. While the group from the Fraser Valley managed to put up a fight for the first twenty minutes holding their opponent to a single point differential at the break. the defending champs broke the game open in the second half as their young legs and long distance shooting, led by Miguel Tomley and Elliott Mason, proved to be too much to handle on route to a convincing win, 113-94.
Thanks to Nishad Tarek's 40 point effort, the Langara Falcons managed to defeat the Marauders Air Force, despite a 38 point afternoon from Al McIntosh, 117-106 in both team's second game of the day. Although undermanned, the Air Force managed to keep the game within a single point at the halftime break before they ran out of gas with a short bench.
With a convincing 126-111 victory over the Runnin' Rebels, the Cascades finished their first day of action sitting undefeated. Facing as much as a nineteen point differential, the Rebels managed to put together a 16-2 run to claw back to within five points before the Fraser Valley school put the game out of reach. Bains, on the back of nine three pointers led the Cascades with a game-high 29 points, while Christiansen countered with 26 for the Rebels.
Despite a well rounded scoring effort and a three-point lead heading into the final minutes of the second half, Lights Out could not manage to hang on to their advantage, falling 87-83 to the Mixed Panthers. Holding control of the scoreboard for the majority of the game, Lights Out fell victim to untimely foul calls late in the second half as the Panthers finished the game hit seven free throws of their final nine points to steal their second victory of the day.
To close out Saturday's action, the X-Falcons found themselves down as many as eleven point midway through the first half against the TRU Wolfpack. In a slow paced affair the Wolfpack found themselves in foul trouble during the first twenty minutes as the X-Falcons ran off a string of trips to the free throw line to tie the game at fifty points apiece at the break. Unfortunately, the foul problems would continue to plague the Wolfpack in the second half as their lead once again disappeared with trips to the free throw line, turning a three-point lead into a fourteen point deficit and eventually a 116-93 victory for the X-Falcons.
Unfortunately for Lights Out, their first game on Sunday morning was exactly that as the TRU Wolfpack handed them a lopsided 91-65 loss to knock them out of advancing to the playoff round. Led by Tyus DeVires and Anton Bilous, the Wolfpack controlled the scoreboard from the opening tip until the final buzzer as Lights Out struggled to gain any momentum throughout the game.
After losing their first two games, the Marauders Air Force entered their game against the Runnin' Rebels as the underdogs. In a game that would potentially launch the Rebels into the playoffs, the team came out flat as the Air Force opened up a double-digit lead and didn't look back. With a well-rounded team effort that ended with all but one member hitting double digits, the Air Force eased into a 112-92 victory. Amazingly enough, the win and point differential catapulted the Marauders into the playoffs, while the Rebels were on the outside looking in.
Although as a result of the Air Force/Rebels game, plus their record from Saturday, the Cascades already had first place in their pool wrapped up prior to their meeting with the Langara Falcons, the team still came out firing as they rode a 58-26 halftime lead into a convincing 114-69 victory, priming themselves for a spot in the playoffs.
In a game that would determine the top seed in their pool, the X-Falcons and Mixed Panthers took to the court in the final game of the round robin schedule. Unfortunately for the Panthers, without their leading scorer, the game was not much of a contest, regardless of their efforts as the defending champs entered the playoffs as the overall seed as a result of a 117-82 victory.
With the final four set, the previous two HoopfestBC champions would find themselves on a collision course for the title game as the Cascades would take advantage of a severely fatigued Mixed Panthers team with a 97-81 victory and the X-Falcons demolished the Marauders Air Force 130-75.
With the top seeds in each pool entering the championship game unblemished, the vibe in the gym was fitting of having the last two teams to claim the title battle it out in the final game of the weekend. As both teams played a similar uptempo offence, it came as no surprise that the halftime score was a one point difference in favour of the Cascades. Unfortunately, the game would be impacted by injury as Bains would be sidelined with an ankle injury that took UFV's main offensive weapon out of their arsenal. Surprisingly, even though both teams, especially the X-Falcons, who rely on the pace and space and three ball, the offence came mostly in transition as the defending champs would dominate the final twenty minutes of the tournament on route to a 112-92 victory and the right to call themselves back to back champions.
A special thank you to all the sponsors and supporters for the 14th Annual Hoopfest BC Tournament, without your contributions our event wouldn't be a continued success.
Joseph Richard Group
Prospera Credit Union
Vancouver Canadians Baseball
BC Lions Football
Fraser Valley Bandits
F.U.E.L Catering Services
14th Annual HoopfestBC Al McIntosh Anton Bilous Axel Christiansen Elliot Mason Graeme McCallum Jadon Cohee Jordyn Sekhon Kyle Watson Langara Falcons Lights Out Marauders Air Force Miguel Tomley Mixed Panthers Nishad Tarek Randy Nohr Runnin' Rebels Sukhjot Bains TRU Wolfpack Ty Rowell Tyus DeVires UFV Cascades X-Falcons