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Irish overcome fierce Marauders

Vancouver College’s Campbell-Axson leads scoring
Vancouver College
Vancouver College player gets past a Pitt Meadows Marauders opponent in provincial play at the Langley Events Centre. photo Vision Quest

This story has been amended since first published.

At the B.C. Boys High School Basketball championship, there are bound to be both blowouts and nail-biters. Wednesday afternoon’s quad A match between Vancouver College and Pitt Meadows was without a doubt one of the latter. 

The Vancouver College Irish beat the Pitt Meadows Marauders 74-68 in group play at the Langley Events Centre.

The win guarantees a semifinal berth for the Irish, who edged No. 2-ranked Winston Churchill secondary 89-85 late last month to become the surprise Lower Mainland champions.

It was a game where no lead was safe. Pitt Meadows dominated in the early minutes of the first quarter.

Zach Villanueva and Graham Smith (the smallest and largest players on the hardwood, respectively) led the early Marauder scoring effort with six points a piece.

Vancouver College point guard Elijah Campbell-Axson put together eight in the first, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the Marauder’s early lead.

The Irish ended the quarter down 21-14.    

Early in the second, Vancouver College scored eight points to get within one of Pitt to make it 22-23.

Pitt clawed its way back on top, but Campbell-Axson’s run of five in the dying minutes of the second evened things up 33-33, the game’s first tie. Another four points from Grade 11 forward Jordan Lum-Tong pushed them over the top.

The score was 38-37 at the half. 

The game remained a back-and-forth affair through the final 20 minutes.

The teams traded the lead twice in the third, wrapping up the quarter with a 54-54 tie. Lum-Tong led the Irish with 12 points in the fourth to secure the win.  

Campbell-Axson was rarely off the hardwood and led scoring with 31 points. “He’s our rock,” said Coach Lloyd Scrubb of the Grade 12 player. “We’re not the same team without him.”

Pitt Meadow’s Smith led his team with 29. 

Vancouver College came out of an early season slump that included a five-game losing streak.

A private Catholic boys school, the team plays in a separate league from other Lower Mainland high schools, in part because private schools like Vancouver College can enrol star athletes from anywhere in the province and aren't limited by the same catchment areas that appy to public schools.

Earlier this season, both Vancouver College and St. George’s successfully appealed a decision by the Lower Mainland High School Boys Basketball Association that would have seen only one of the two private schools guaranteed a berth in the regional tournament.  

Vancouver College will face the Crusaders of Holy Cross secondary in the quarter finals Thursday at 8 p.m.

The Surrey team crushed Cowichan Secondary 91-56 in an earlier game.

The game was played after the Courier’s Thursday print deadline.

The championship game will be played March 15 at the Langley Events Centre. 

Twitter.com/Jonnywakefield