Lightning strike for program’s first JB title
For the first time in school history, the Langley Christian Lightning are the junior boys Langley District champions.
The Lightning knocked off the Walnut Grove Gators — who had won the previous five district titles — 41-33 last week (Feb. 6) at the Langley Events Centre’s arena bowl.
“This is huge for our school,” said Langley Christian coach Danielle Gardner.
“We are a small school and to be able to compete with the bigger schools is great.”
Gardner has coached this group since they were in the sixth grade and said her team is usually at a disadvantage because they tend to get a late start on the season as they wait for the school’s volleyball players to finish up in the fall.
The game was tight throughout with the score knotted at 17 at halftime. Neither team could buy a basket in the third quarter as the period ended with Langley Christian nursing a 22-21 lead.
A big difference in the game was the teams’ respective free throw shooting. The Gators went 1-for-8 down the stretch — including missing the first seven — while the Lightning scored their final five points from the charity stripe.
Langley Christian also took advantage of the long ball, hitting a trio of three-pointers in the contest.
Brennan Gardner led the team with 14 points while Sebastian Colyn and Linden Bontkes each had 10.
Walnut Grove was led by Sam McNicoll’s eight points. Andrew Goertzen and Ethan Kano-McGregor had six points apiece.
For the Lightning, it came down to their defence.
“For us, it begins with our defence,” Gardner said.
“We wanted to go hard and play them for every possession and see where that left us.”
“That was a good team that we played,” she added.
During the regular season, Walnut Grove finished atop the league at 7-0 while Langley Christian’s lone league loss was a 50-35 defeat to the Gators back in December.
In the semifinals, the Gators beat the Brookswood Bobcats 52-32 while the Lightning beat the Langley Saints 50-42.
In the third-place game, Brookswood defeated the Saints 47-34.
All four advance to the Fraser Valley championships, which begin Feb. 17 and wrap up Feb. 22.
“Our goal at the start of the year was to be in the top two in Langley and make the Fraser Valleys,” Gardner said, adding that being the top team from Langley should give her squad better seeding for the Fraser Valleys.
“Right now, we just have to keep working hard and playing tough,” she said.