Six straight district titles for Gators
Step one is done.
“Same goal we have every year, get as far as we can with this group of kids,” said Walnut Grove coach Terry Stead.
His Gators squad held off the Brookswood Bobcats 60-46 to win their sixth consecutive Grade 8 boys Langley District basketball championship on Feb. 6.
The game was played in the arena bowl at the Langley Events Centre.
“This is just step one,” Stead said, as the team now readies for the always-tough Fraser Valley championships.
The 32-team tournament begins Feb. 18 with just the top three making the B.C. provincial championships. If Walnut Grove does survive the Fraser Valleys, it would be the a straight trip to provincials for the program.
Against the Bobcats, the Gators led 11-7 after one quarter and 29-19 at the half. They found some offensive rhythm in the third quarter to pull ahead 47-29. The ’Cats cut into the lead in the fourth, but lost by 14 points.
Walnut Grove (8-0) and Brookswood (7-1) were the top two seeds, with the Gators having beat the Bobcats by 35 points, 60-25, in late January.
“They played like Brookswood always does in big games,” Stead said.
“They make you work for every point.”
“Our press in the second half got some turnovers and helped change the tempo,” added Walnut Grove assistant coach Ajiab Gosal.
Another factor in the win was the play of point guard James Woods, who led the team with 25 points. More importantly, he was able to handle the ’Cats full-court press with some outstanding dribbling.
Dannon Sturn chipped in with 14 points and Azino Urefe added seven points.
Brookswood was led by the inside presence of Sam Ready who had 14 points while Colin Ulle had nine points.
The Gators are more of a guard-oriented team this year.
But the team struggled with their outside shooting.
“We didn’t shoot particularly well,” Stead said. “It is a new environment for the guys, they are used to having a wall behind the basket.”
“Our message to them was to just try and get to the basket,” he added.
Walnut Grove has a pair of tournament titles under their belt, but they know the Fraser Valleys will be a challenge.
“We want to be in the mix, but it is going to be tough,” Stead said.
In the third place game, the Credo Christian Kodiaks defeated the Betty Gilbert Raptors 38-35.
In the semifinals, Walnut Grove had defeated Credo Christian 58-30 while Brookswood knocked off the Raptors 52-34.
All four Langley teams move on to the Fraser Valley championships, which begin Feb. 18 and wrap up on Feb. 24.