The Enver Creek Cougars and White Rock Christian Academy Warriors staged upset wins in their respective Fraser Valley zone finals last Friday as the long march to the 2012 B.C. High School Senior Boys AAA Basketball Championships began.
Enver Creek declawed the host Princess Margaret Lions 79-69 to win the Fraser Valley Central zone title while White Rock Christian avenged a pair of earlier losses by knocking off Tamanawis 60-58 in the Wildcats' home gym in the Fraser Valley Southwest zone final.
Ranked ninth in the province, the Warriors secured the No. 4 seed for the Valley tourney while the seventh-ranked Wildcats are seeded fifth, two spots ahead of the surging Cougars.
In Newton Friday night, Enver Creek put a league loss to Princess Margaret behind them by spoiling the Lions' bid for the top seed in the FV Central.
"When we played them at the end of January, we in no way matched their energy and their effort," said Cougars coach Phil Deeks. "They're a real scrappy team and they have a real knack of luring you into playing their style of basketball. If you're not ready for it, they will beat you pretty bad and that's what happened in January when they thumped us pretty good, winning by 17.
"That game served as a wake-up call for us because it showed our guys that there are tough teams out there and we had to be ready to play hard every game. PM gave us a good jolt and we've responded well because we haven't lost since."
The Cougars clearly learned from their mistakes in their second crack at the Lions. This time around the Enver defence weathered several offensive surges by the Lions but each time, managed to answer with points of their own to keep Princess Margaret at arm's length.
"PM is an energy team and if they can get a run going - especially in their gym with their crowd behind them - they can get you into trouble in a hurry," Deeks said. "We stayed on top of them and even when they pushed back with pressure a couple of times, we kept our composure and didn't make any mistakes Princess Margaret could feed on."
Shooting guard Gurkirat Kular sparked the Cougars with 25 points while forward Justin Bhangoo came through with his best game of the season by amassing 20 points and 16 rebounds. Guard Seye Akinsanmi scored 18 points to lead the Lions, one point more than teammate Henry Flowers.
Meanwhile several blocks away at Tamanawis Secondary, White Rock Christian took advantage of a third-quarter fade by the host team to pull out a narrow two point win over the Wildcats.
Tamanawis overcame the loss of guard Shivi Viria to injury early in the game to build an impressive 37-24 lead at the break. In the second half the Warriors came out strong and only met mild resistance from the host school.
Jon Pelling nailed four three-point shots in the frame to power the Warriors into the lead. Guard Tyus Allen took over from there in leading the Warriors to their first win in three tries over the Wildcats.
"This was big for us not only because it was the zone final, it was also at the time of the year when we needed a big win like that," said Warriors coach John Dykstra. "We got the win we needed to win the zone but more importantly, we got a top-four seeding for the Fraser Valley's and now we'll get to play three important playoff games at home. Hopefully we can take care of business and Tamanawis takes care of their business so we can play a rematch with them in the third round of the Valleys on Feb. third round of the Valleys on Feb. 27. That's what I hope but there's a lot of work to be done by both teams before then."
Wildcats coach Surinder Grewal added, "All of our games with them this year have been great games. We beat them by four points in a league game and by two points in the RCMP final but they beat us by two points in the zone final. It's almost like a best-of-seven playoff series where they now have home advantage in Game 4 if we can both make it to that game on Feb. 27."
Pelling and Allen both finished the game with 14 points to lead White Rock in scoring. Tamanawis guard Manny Dulay was the top 'Cat with 22 points while Sukhjot Bains chipped in with 15.
This Wednesday (Feb. 22) is Doomsday for the eight surviving schools in each zone as the Fraser Valley tournament begins with a bang. All 32 teams will be in action with the winners advancing to the next round while the losers see their seasons come to an end.
Doomsday match ups include, South Delta vs Cloverdale's Clayton Heights; Walnut Grove vs Newton's Sullivan Heights; South Surrey's Elgin Park vs Abbotsford Collegiate; Terry Fox vs Whalley's L.A. Matheson; Maple Ridge vs Cloverdale's Lord Tweedsmuir; White Rock Christian vs Whalley's Kwantlen Park; Sardis vs Fleetwood Park; Tamanawis vs Whalley's Queen Elizabeth; Princess Margaret vs North Delta's Seaquam; North Delta vs Chilliwack; and Enver Creek vs North Surrey. For more information on game times and locations, visit www. bcboysbasketball.com and click on Fraser Valley zone.