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Tigers nearly lose roar in opening win

Veteran coach reminds team to maintain perspective
bball
Santi Ubial takes a shot over L.V.Bombers guard Issiah Kingdom-Wiebe. photo: Vision Quest

One game down, three more to go.

The boys from East Vancouver’s Sir Charles Tupper secondary took one step down the road to bringing home a third banner in one season on Wednesday with a 59 to 37 win over the Nelson’s L.V. Rogers secondary in round one of the 2014 B.C. High School Boys AAA Basketball Championships at the Langley Events Centre.  

This season, the Tigers won the Vancouver City championship banner — which head coach Jeff Gourley hung in his living room window as is a Gourley tradition —  and the 2014 Lower Mainland Zone Tournament championship banner and now they want to make it three-for-three.

But if they want to make it to the final game, they are going to have to play more like they did in the third quarter of this opener than they did the rest of the game.

The No. 2 ranked Tigers’ team was nervous and it showed from the tip off.  

The Tigers hit the net just 25 per cent from the field (22 out of 88) against the No. 15 ranked Bombers.

And they were just 27 per cent (10 out of 37) from distance  — a huge difference from the 69 per cent from distance they achieved at the Lower Mainland final against the powerhouse Saint Thomas More Knights.

The jitters are something Gourley expected due to the intimidation of the Big Dance. Everything from the opening night banquet to the pre-game photo shoot ramped up the pressure and the excitement, he said.

“I told them before the game started. I said, I have been in this situation 100 times as a player and a coach, you are just going to miss, it is as simple as that, and boy did we ever,” said Gourley.

The Tigers seemed to have tackled most of the nerves by the half up 27 to 16, but the game was definitively won in the third quarter.

Captain Saurav Acharya, a Grade 12 student who’s a leader on and off the court with plans to become a doctor and acceptance at both UBC and McGill University , got his first points in the third and that relaxed the team, said Gourley.

Five-foot-eleven Acharya scored 10 points before the final buzzer, including two three-pointers with two assists.

The rest of the third saw an incredible three-point run by senior 5’7” guard Ron Ronquillo (Lower Mainland Most Valuable Player). Ronquillo racked up 13 points in the third, including three 3-pointers and was the game’s top scorer at 21 points.

Ronquillo said he was motivated to up his game and ensure a win while they were ahead after seeing No. 3 ranked Surrey’s Fleetwood Park get picked off by Prince Rupert’s No. 14 ranked Charles Hays (52 to 51) and the No. 1 ranked Abbotsford Panthers win by a measly nine points (86 to 77) versus the lowest ranked team at the tourney, Fort St. John’s North Peace Oscars.

“We just didn’t want to be one of those upsets,” Ronquillo said.

Another top scorer was 5’7” senior guard DJ Sugue with 11 points on the game and four assists in his 29 minutes on the hardwood.

Though the score was one sided, Gourley gave credit to the lanky Bombers who left it all on the court.

“They hustled very well,” said Gourley.

The Bombers had a shallower bench with 10 on their roster to Tupper’s 16 and played its star forward 6’1” Ethan Perkins 31 minutes. Perkins, a senior, was his team’s game top-scorer with 11 points and one assist.  

Unlike players from some Lower Mainland teams who stay at a hotel for the duration of the four-day series, the Tupper boys and their coach are making the trek back and forth to Langley daily, but that didn’t seem to phase the players.

“One down,” said Sugue with a wide smile as he and his Tigers teammates headed for the bus.

For game times and scores, go to langleyeventscentre.com/3ABoysBBall.

thuncher@shaw.ca

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