The White Rock Christian Academy Warriors picked the wrong night to have their shooting touch go cold.
The Warriors hit just 31.5 per cent of their shots from the field - including just seven of 32 from three-point land - in a crushing 59-53 loss to the Walnut Grove Gators in the title game of the 2013 B.C. Senior Boys AAA Basketball Championships at the Langley Events Centre Saturday night.
"The guys will be hurting a little bit for the next while, but we'll gather ourselves and celebrate a great season," said Warriors coach Dale Shury. "Last year we won on the final day, but it was for third place. This year we made it to the final but, well, it's always nice to win your last game. We had an awesome run and the guys have a lot to be proud of."
White Rock opened the tourney with a narrow 69-66 overtime win over the Enver Creek Cougars on Wednesday and then needed two overtime sessions to get by W.J. Mouat 72-69 in Thursday's quarter-final round. The Warriors then outlasted Kitsilano 74-72 in Friday's semifinals to reach the title game.
Waiting for them there was the top-ranked Gators, a team that beat White Rock Christian 73-64 in the title game of the Fraser Valley tournament two weeks ago.
White Rock started quickly only to have the Gators settle down and begin to take over the run of play. Walnut Grove led 20-15 after the first quarter and stretched their lead to 32-26 at the break. When play resumed, the Warriors erased the deficit and took the lead with an 8-0 run to open the second half. Unfortunately, they could muster just five more points in the third quarter and when the session ended, Walnut Grove was back on top 42-39.
Walnut Grove dominated the early stages of the final frame, extending their advantage to a game-high nine points. White Rock was dominating under the glass, but were unable to convert those rebounds into points as shot after shot bounced harmlessly off the rim.
The Warriors finally found their groove late in the quarter when they embarked on a 9-0 run to tie the game at 53-53 with less than two minutes remaining. Seconds later, Walnut Grove's Jadon Cohee hit a two-point shot to put the Gators back on top. The Gators then hit four of six foul shots to close out the win.
"We had played them three times before so we were fully prepared for this type of game," Shury said. "The shots weren't falling for us, but they weren't falling for them either.
(Walnut Grove hit on 34.4 per cent of their shots plus 11 of 15 free throws. WRCA hit on six of eight from the charity stripe.)
"When a game is this close, if we get just one bounce to go our way, we're having a completely different conversation."
Cohee finished with a game-high 22 points and was named the tournament MVP. Peter Spangehl led the Warriors with 14 points, one more than teammates Tyus Allen and Sam Ykema.
Allen was named to the first all-star team while Vartan Tanielian was a second team selection. Spangehl made the list for the third all-star team.
Elsewhere, the Enver Creek Cougars are wondering what might have been after they posted a 4-1 record at the provincials to wind up sixth.
The Cougars thumped Mount Baker 100-47 in Tuesday's play-in game and they pushed White Rock to the limit before falling in overtime. Enver bounced back to rout Handsworth 73-54 on Thursday and dispatch Terry Fox 65-59 Friday before closing out the event with a 72-57 romp over Sardis in the sixth-place game.
"This is the most successful season our school has ever had," said Cougars coach Phil Deeks. "It's something the guys were aware of, it's something to celebrate and it's something to be very proud of.
"The seniors played with pride all week and they wanted to make sure they went out with their heads held high."
Cougars guard Gurkirat Kular was named to the second all-star team and Deeks singled out Rajan Gill, Nicholas Jhauj, Aaron Nand and David Ahmad for their play in the tournament.