Gators fall in OT in Fraser Valley final

Walnut Grove Gators
Walnut Grove Gators' Bryce Derton goes up for the lay-up against the defence of Brookswood's Evan Jackman during the junior boys district championship game. Derton was named an all-star at the Fraser Valley championships as the Gators finished second.
— image credit: Gary Ahuja/Langley Times

After hitting a buzzer-beating three-pointer to force overtime and then taking the lead in overtime, the Walnut Grove Gators could not close things out.

Instead, the Gleneagle Talons rallied for a 44-40 victory in the Fraser Valley junior boys basketball championship final on Feb. 26. The game was played at Fleetwood Park.

With his team down by three in regulation, Trevor Whiton gave the Gators new life.

"He turned, chucked up a prayer and banked in a three with just 0.1 seconds left, to force overtime," said Gators coach Jon Fast.

And Walnut Grove carried that momentum into the extra period, quickly going ahead by four points.

But a costly make turned the game in Gleneagle's favour as Walnut Grove fouled a Talons player.

"That stopped the clock and they got two quick points," Fast said.

"After that, they just took over and we didn't make a shot."

"(But) the boys played really, really well," he added.

The Gators were also hurt by the fact two of their top players — Varun Sentilkumar and Lucas Hodgson – had fouled out before overtime.

The Talons also did a good job in containing Sentilkumar, who is usually one of Walnut Grove's go-to-scorers.

"They played Varun really tough and didn't give him very much space at all," Fast said.

"He was a non-factor most of the game."

"My Grade 9s had to step up to the plate and they kept fighting and kept battling," he said.

"But (Gleneagle) just had one big guy who just kept rebounding."

Fast was referring to a Gleneagle player who was six-foot-six and dominated the boards.

In the final minute, with Walnut Grove employed a fouling strategy to try and get the ball back. And it nearly worked, as the Talons missed seven of their eight free throws. The only problem was Gleneagle kept getting the rebound.

This was Walnut Grove's fourth meeting against Gleneagle and they fell to 1-3 against them.

The Gators won the first game of the season, by 30 points, but since then, the Talons have won by six, 11 and now four points.

Sentilkumar and Bryce Derton were named to the Fraser Valley all-star team.

Gleneagle entered the 32-team tournament as the top seed while Walnut Grove, the Langley district champions, were ranked sixth.

Walnut Grove won their opener, 59-20 over Chilliwack, and then edged Johnston Heights 40-35 in round two.

The Gators edged Pitt Meadows 52-50 in the quarter-finals and then defeated Panorama Ridge 51-40 for a spot in the championship game.

Both Gleneagle and Walnut Grove advance to the B.C. provincial championships, which run Mar. 8-10 at Vancouver College. The Gators are making their first appearance at the championships since 2006.

Three other Langley teams were competing at the Fraser Valley championships, but all lost in the opening round.

Brookswood fell 47-39 to Sardis, Credo Christian lost 56-32 to W.J. Mouat and Langley Fundamental dropped a 77-30 decision to Tamanawis.

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