Gators ground Lightning in district final
The Walnut Grove Gators used a strong start to set the tone for their third consecutive district championship.
The Gators won the junior boys' title with a convincing 66-41 victory over the Langley Christian Lightning.
"We shot the ball well," said coach Jon Fast. "They played a tough zone, they forced us to make shots in a tough gym."
Sam Shin came up big with some key baskets early, scoring eight of the team's 19 points in the first quarter.
And from there, the Gators used their huge size advantage to continue extending the lead.
By halftime, they led 33-17, and after a close third quarter where each team scored 10 points, Walnut Grove put the game out of reach with a 22-point fourth quarter.
Walnut Grove received a balanced scoring attack, with big man David Nicmans inflicting damage down low with 16 points, while guards Jadon Cohee and Varan Senthilkumar each had 11. Shin finished with nine points.
After the game, Fast credited the Lightning for emerging over the past few years as a basketball hotbed.
Langley Christian was led by Mike Grypma and Mark Antoniuk, who had nine and seven points, respectively. Connor Foster also chipped in with seven.
Winning districts was not a huge surprise for Walnut Grove, especially considering they won their seven league games by an average of nearly 40 points per game.
With the Fraser Valley regional championships coming up this week, Fast knows his team will be in tough.
"We have a goal to win the Fraser Valleys and get to provincials," he said.
Only the top two teams from Valleys advance and the Gators, Pitt Meadows, W.J. Mouat and White Rock Christian are all ranked in the top 10 in B.C.
"It is going to be a tough road."
Walnut Grove is seeded fifth at the Fraser Valley championships, which kicked off on Monday.
The Gators advanced to the round of 16 with a 60-27 win over the Mission Roadrunners on Monday. They face the Fraser Heights Firehawks, with the winner advancing to the main draw of this weekend's Fraser Valley championships at Seaquam Secondary.
Langley's other three representatives at the Valleys were not as fortunate, losing their do-or-die game.
Langley Christian lost 51-34 to Terry Fox, Pitt Meadows hammered R.E. Mountain 105-52 and W.J. Mouat thrashed Brookswood 70-15.