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Basketball tournament draws thousands to Events Centre

R.C. Palmer Griffins point guard Bill Cheng dishes the ball off to a teammate during the B.C. boys’ AAA basketball championship final against Vancouver College on Saturday at the Langley Events Centre. Cheng, named the tournament top defensive player, helped the Richmond school win its first provincial title with a 71-63 victory. The Events Centre will host the event until at least 2015. - John Gordon/Langley Times
R.C. Palmer Griffins point guard Bill Cheng dishes the ball off to a teammate during the B.C. boys’ AAA basketball championship final against Vancouver College on Saturday at the Langley Events Centre. Cheng, named the tournament top defensive player, helped the Richmond school win its first provincial title with a 71-63 victory. The Events Centre will host the event until at least 2015.
— image credit: John Gordon/Langley Times

The atmosphere was electric, the stands were mostly full and the basketball was phenomenal.

And judging by the feedback tournament director John Buis received afterwards, the first B.C. high school AAA senior boys’ basketball championships ever held in Langley were a success.

“I never thought that the efforts of previous years could be improved, but somehow you and your crew did it,” read one e-mail he received.

Another said “the event looked amazingly professional. It was very slickly run and a great experience from a spectator point of view.”

As he does after every tournament, Buis will send out a questionnaire to the teams, tournament sponsors, officials and media for their feedback.

“That is the only way we are going to get better,” he explained.

But the early indications are the tournament, which was held at the Langley Events Centre for the first time, was a big success.

The estimated crowd for Saturday’s championship final — which saw Richmond’s R.C. Palmer pull off a thrilling comeback 71-63 over Vancouver College — was more than 4,000 fans.

While not concrete, early estimations are that more than 10,000 people were in the Langley Events Centre over the tournament’s five days.

“We filled up both parking lots (for Saturday’s final) and still could have put a few more thousand fans in,” Buis said.

“It is pretty early to try and give all the information,” Buis added, explaining he still needed to have debrief sessions with the Langley Events Centre staff and another one with his tournament committee.

“From my point of view, there were just a couple of minor snags.”

One involved when a couple of hundred spectators flooded the ticket window at the same time. That was quickly rectified by moving the ‘will call’ window to a different area.

The other had to do with buses not parking in the designated areas, and taking up several parking stalls.

“But these are relatively minor things when you are talking about the overall scope or scale of the event,” he said.

He was also complimentary of those who helped stage the tournament.

“The Langley Events staff worked really hard on accommodating the fans and the players,” Buis said. “And I think the Township has proven that it is a good facility for a number of things, including amateur events.”

Jared Harman, the LEC’s director of business development, said he had heard nothing but positive feedback.

“From our standpoint, we strived to make sure it was the best tournament possible for everybody,” he said.

“We really wanted to create an event that people would remember, specifically the players and coaches, and from the feedback we got, I think we accomplished that.”

Buis also said the tournament will be staying at the Langley Events Centre through 2015, after the two sides reached a five-year agreement.

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