Gators pressure key in victory
A 20-point second quarter and some stifling defensive pressure helped send the Walnut Grove Gators to their fourth straight junior boys Langley district championship title.
The Gators defeated the Brookswood Bobcats 55-35 on Thursday night at the Langley Events Centre.
The two teams also met earlier this month, but that game was much closer, with the Gators prevailing 55-46.
"Our ability to apply pressure," said Gators coach Jon Fast, on what helped the team turn a five-point lead after one quarter into a 22-point advantage in the district final.
"When we decided to get up on them, we were creating a lot of turnovers and that helped turn the tide in the game."
Walnut Grove outscored Brookswood 34-14 over the second and third quarters and then put things in cruise control for the fourth.
Varun Senthilkumar and Lucas Hodgson paced the Gators offensive attack with 17 points apiece.
Hodgson came up with some big three-pointers to open up the lead, while Kumar was effective at driving the lane and drawing fouls for three-point plays.
"I knew it was going to be a dogfight," Fast said.
"We just had to to stay composed and poised."
As for the slow start in the game — they only managed 11 points in the opening quarter — Fast said a lot of that has to do with the team playing in the atmosphere of an arena setting as opposed to high school gyms.
"The kids aren't used to shooting without walls (behind the baskets)," he said.
"The introductions, etc., it is a totally new thing to the guys.
"Trying to get them to focus can be a tough thing."
With the win, the Gators improved to 25-5 on the season as they head into the Fraser Valley championships next week.
They will be joined at the 32-team tournament by Brookswood, as well as Credo Christian and Langley Fundamental.
Credo took third place in the district with a 50-43 victory.
Walnut Grove is seeded sixth and they open at home on Monday (Feb. 20) against Chilliwack at 7:30 p.m.
Brookswood, ranked 20th, Credo Christian (No. 24) and Langley Fundamental (No. 29) all played their opening round games out of town.