Brentwood College managed to ride out the Sa-Hali Sabres storm on Wednesday.
Brentwood, a private boarding school from Mill Bay, opened the provincial AA boys basketball championship with a 71-41 victory over the Sa-Hali Sabres at TRU Gym. The Sabres will move to the consolation side to play the Prince George-Duchess Park Condors today, 11:45 a.m., at the TCC, while Brentwood will play the North Vancouver-Archbishop Carney Stars in a quarterfinal at 6:45 p.m.
Wednesday's score would indicate a blowout and, for the game's second half, it was. But in the first half, the Sabres were outstanding, flying around the court and limiting the tournament's No. 2 seed. Brentwood appeared a little surprised at the intensity the Sabres brought early.
"We didn't shoot it great in the first half, but I think Sa-Hali had something to do with that," said Brentwood head coach Blake Gage. "Their defensive intensity, as is usual every time we play them, was outstanding. They put us on our heels a little bit."
The Sabres went into the second half down 33-31, but everything that was going well for Sa-Hali in the first half simply stopped working.
The Sabres had taken care of the ball well in the early-going; every second-half pass seemed to be just a little too far or a little too short. And Sa-Hali's shots, which were falling in the first half, were bouncing off the rim and rolling out as the game went on.
Sa-Hali only managed 10 points in the second half, a tough end to what started out as an excellent effort.
It is the third straight season in which Brentwood has eliminated the Sabres at provincials - in both years, Brentwood went on to lose in a semifinal. Brentwood would love to improve on that this year.
"We have a nice group of guys who have been together a long time," Gage said. "A lot of these guys have been playing together since Grade 9, which, in our school, it's pretty veteran."
Ulas Zeyrek had 27 points to lead Brentwood, which got 19 from Jordan Charles and 12 from Jason Tran. Liam Epp, with 16 points, and Austin Langill, with seven, led Sa-Hali's offence.
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Brentwood doesn't have a nickname, but it has a strong international presence on its roster.
This year's team features players from Turkey, Israel, Taiwan, Korea and Canada - each player has the flag of his home country on his team jacket.
Students come from far and wide for Brentwood's academics, not its basketball.
"I wish we had kids come to our school to play sports, but they come to our school to go to university (after)," Gage said. "You see some of that in our play, too. We've got a pretty cerebral bunch of guys."
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Each of the Sabres' jerseys has a yellow ribbon on it, in memory of former coach Elmer Froese.
Froese, a longtime coach and volunteer in Kamloops, passed away last year. He is honoured on an "In Memoriam" page in the tournament program.
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The No. 1 seed in the girls draw strutted its stuff in its opening game Wednesday.
The Surrey-Holy Cross Crusaders opened with a 116-24 victory over the Trail-J.L. Crowe Hawks on Wednesday. Five Holy Cross players hit double-digits in scoring.
Hitting 100 points at the girls tournament isn't exactly a common occurrence. In fact, in 2012, the Vancouver-Britannia Bruins opened with a 93-26 victory over the Abbotsford Huskies - no girls or boys team scored more than 93 in the tournament.
The last time a girls team cracked 100 was in the opening round of the 2011 tournament, when the Vancouver-York House Tigers knocked off the Smithers Gryphons 103-41.
If the Crusaders are looking for a sign, there it is - Britannia won the title last season, while York House finished first in 2011.
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The tournament's quarterfinals will be held today at the TCC.
Boys and girls quarterfinals will run on two courts at 1:30 p.m., 3:15 p.m., 5 p.m., and 6:45 p.m.
Friday's boys semifinals will start at 2:15 and 5:45 p.m., with the girls semifinals to run at 4 and 7:30 p.m. The girls final is scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m., with the boys final to start at 4 p.m.