You don’t knock off three of B.C.’s best teams by accident, Harry Brar wants you to know.
The six-foot-four forward was named MVP of the senior boys AAAA Lower Mainland championship as the over-looked Thompson Trojans deepened their post-season run all the way to provincials, on next week in Langley. Upset or otherwise, multiple wins are no one-off, said Brar.
“I don’t know if you can fluke making the provincials,” he said. “Since the playoffs started, we’ve taken out three top-ranked teams. You can’t fluke that.”
In a densely competitive region, the unranked Trojans started by beating Kitsilano to reach the city championship final, they advanced past St. George’s early in the Lower Mainland tourney, and to keep their season alive, eliminated Windermere and No. 1 Vancouver College.
“Considering that was potentially our last game of our high school career, it was one of our most memorable wins ever, especially over a really great team,” said Brar, who had 43 points in the 74-63 win. (He also scored 58 against St. George’s, not 54 as previously reported.)
To say no one expected the Trojans’ season to continue into March is an understatement. Coach Jimmy Choi planned his honeymoon for the same week and several players booked themselves for a school trip to the Dominican Republic. Choi rescheduled the trip with his bride, and another player will return early to play.
“No matter how much you tell yourself you’re not going to,” said Choi, “the day the team is playing on that floor, you’re going to be thinking — what’s the score? Win or lose, you made the show. You’re there. You had to accomplish some big things to get there.”
Brar, who graduates this year and has heard from two post-secondary programs, said the Trojans can take each game as it comes, which keeps the competition fun.
“We just want to continue to play,” he said. “We know nobody has counted on us to win anything this year, so from here on out, there is no expectation. The pressure is going to be on the other team. It’s always fun to do that and catch a team by surprise. If we get up, teams will start to look around and wonder what’s happening.”
The answer is that Brar is what’s happening. In a must-win game against Windermere, he scored 35 and came up big again in another elimination game against over the Fighting Irish. He averaged 37.5 points on his way to tournament MVP, an accolade typically awarded to a player on the championship team.
“What really set Harry apart in this year’s Lower Mainland's was the fact that he had such huge games at the most important times,” said Paul Eberhardt, the tournament director for the regional tournament and the head coach of the Langara Falcons. “He definitely has the potential to be a strong player at a post-secondary level.”
Brar, who was always one of the tallest kids in his class, picked up a basketball in Grade 9 during drop-in gym sessions at the school. He left soccer for the hardwood, following the example of his older brother Sunny. He lives near David Thompson secondary but works downtown on weekends at an upscale grocery store. He also briefly played club basketball with Drive.
Choi said Brar is a level-headed player mature beyond his 17 years. “He’s very quiet and very reserved. If the situation is tough, he keeps his cool. He doesn’t panic at all.”
Cool and clutch, that’s how Brar has raised the standard.