It was a disappointing end to what they hoped would be a championship repeat for the Walnut Grove Gators.
Walnut Grove was in a one-score game in the quarter-final round against the Tamanawis Wildcats.
And the Gators had two cracks at scoring in the final 30 seconds, first trailing by one, James Woods’ runner in the lane rimmed out, and then after the Wildcats hit a pair of free throws to go up three, Woods’ three-pointer wouldn’t fall either to force overtime.
Tamanawis won the game 63-60 and wound wind up capturing the bronze medal at the B.C. 4A boys provincial championships at the Langley Events Centre while the Gators went 2-2 overall to place seventh.
The team entered the championships ranked 10th but aside from the No. 1 seed Oak Bay Bays — the Gators’ opponent in the seventh/eighth place game — there were at least a handful of teams who had a legitimate shot at making the gold-medal game.
“Obviously it is a huge disappointment. I can’t lie because our goal was to win the championship,” admitted Walnut Grove head coach Reid Taylor.
The gold-medal game featured the No. 8 Burnaby South Rebels — a team Walnut Grove took to overtime back in November before losing 89-84 — and the No. 6 Semiahmoo Totems.
“It was anybody’s game and we did feel like we had a chance to win,” the coach said.
“The boys played hard (and) they felt good going into that game and they executed the game plan.”
That game plan included trying to contain Tamanawis standout Miguel Tomley, who set a tournament record with 180 points over the four games, an average of 35.
The Gators held him to 26 but the Walnut Grove offence managed just 60 points, well below their season average of 88 points per game.
“We just couldn’t hit shots. We went cold,” Taylor said. “We are a shooting team so when we have an off-night shooting it can make for a difficult night.”
The Gators had beat the No. 7 St. George’s Saints 89-76 in the opening round and after losing to Tamanawis, they fell 97-88 to Holy Cross before bouncing back with a 90-82 win over Oak Bay.
Woods an all-star
Walnut Grove’s James Woods was named a provincial first team all-star.
This comes on the heels of Woods winning the most valuable player award in 2017 as the Gators won the 4A provincial title.
“He’s a special kid,” Taylor said.
“We know he is such a great scorer, but he was getting over 10 rebounds a game every night, in all four games, and he was also the main guy guarding Tomley when we held him to 26 points.
“He has a very well-rounded game and an underrated defensive side to him.”
Taylor predicts that Woods’ showing at the provincial championship will only help in the Grade 12 guard’s efforts to land a scholarship for next season.