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Basketball: Tupper Tigers dispatch Rainmakers to reach 3A BC final

Tupper competes for first senior boys AAA title on Saturday night
tupper basketball
Tupper Tiger Chris Schneller (No. 7) goes to the hoop for two of his game-high 19 points in a 63-40 semifinal win over the Charles Hayes Rainmakers in a senior boys AAA B.C. Championship semifinal at the Langley Events Centre March 13, 2015. Photo Paul Czene


By putting in one of their best defensive efforts this season, the Tupper Tigers are through to their first senior boys basketball B.C. championship in school history. The Tigers play either the McMath Wildcats or Fleetwood Park Dragons at 6 p.m. March 14 at the Langley Events Centre.

The Tigers knocked off the Charles Hays Rainmakers 63-40 in a lopsided semi-final Friday afternoon Langley. Earlier in the season, the Tigers beat the Rainmakers by a five-point margin.

“I thought it was going to be a closer game, but going up against the No. 1 team isn’t ever going to be easy,” said the player of the game, John Tait.

Coach Jeff Gourley’s Tigers were ranked fist in B.C. and entered the senior boys AAA B.C. championship as the No. 1 seed. The Rainmakers were seeded fourth.

“We’ve never made it this far,” said Tait. “We want to win it for our school. We want to get one for coach.”

Tait grew up in Port Simpson and has played with or against many of the Rainmakers. During the summer when he’s back up north, he gets together to shoot around with the Charles Hays players.

“That’s how I know their strengths and weaknesses,” he said. “We had to make some adjustments on the big guy. I had to stay low on him and knew to call for help when I needed it.”

Tait, a graduating senior, was named the player of the game for holding strong against Rainmaker centre Justin McChesney, who stands six inches taller at six-foot-10. McChesney had eight points, eight rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots in the first half. Tait held him to only two second-half points, and the Tigers’ team defence dried up the Rainmakers inside-outside game.

The team from Prince Rupert shot less than 30 per cent from the perimeter and could not sweet-talk the rim into any tenderness. They shot 33 per cent from the field and even sure-thing two-handed jams clanged off the iron.

They had talent and size but Charles Hays had no touch in the semi-final. You wanted better for the Rainmakers -- and a more entertaining game -- because you know they’re better than the final score suggested. But credit where credit is due: the Tigers delivered a complete offensive and defensive performance, relying on Tait, Chris Schneller, Niko Mottus, Santi Ubial and Taylor Ross at both ends of the court. All five starters played the full 40-minute game. 

The Rainmakers shot off to a quick 6-0 start, with both buckets coming off passes from McChesney in the key who kicked the ball to an outside shooter. There were two lead changes plus a 6-6 deadlock in the opening 10-minute quarter. The second frame played out in a similar way, but after the game was tied twice, the Tigers clawed ahead and spun out of a 21-apiece stalemate with an 11-2 run to take a nine point lead and close the half leading the Rainmakers 32-25.

The Tigers outscored the Rainmakers 12-20 in the third and, incredibly, held Charles Hays to only three points in the fourth quarter.