A brutal first quarter saw the team score only six points. They shot just 26 per cent in the first half.
But, somehow, they miraculously caught fire in the fourth quarter and erased a double digit deficit to win 69-63 over the South Kamloops Titans at the Langley Events Centre.
It’s the first-ever basketball provincial title in school history – in fact, it was the first time Hansen had even made it to a gold medal game.
“We had a very slow start,” said tournament most outstanding player Josh Dhillon. “We’ve been having them all tournament long, but our main thing is mental toughness. We know how to overcome things. It’s not about skill, it’s about what’s in your brain.”
Dhillon scored 30 points and grabbed six rebounds to help his team to victory. Hurricanes head coach Steve Twele said the team spent time all year long on the mental aspects of the game, and it paid off in the biggest game of the year.
“It was a battle,” he said. “We didn’t have much luck scoring in the first half, but we had spent a lot of time in the classroom talking about mental toughness and handling situations just like this.”
Twele pointed to Thursday’s game agains the St. Thomas More Collegiate Knights as another example of his team’s will. They trailed by 20 points mid-way through the third quarter, but battled back to win in overtime.
“There was a little bit of frustration at the half,” he said, as the team trailed 29-22. “But overall we knew we could play better. We kind of thought, we’ve been here before and we weren’t down by much.”
He pointed out that Hansen scored just 21 points against the Knights in the first half of that game.
Dhillon said his team’s hustle and energy helped spark the incredible comeback.
“Our defensive rebounding and jumping on loose balls just got the crowd pumped up and it gave us some adrenaline,” he said.
Twele said the team’s defence, particularly several timely steals helped turn the tide.
Grade 10 student Gurkaran Mangat also had a huge fourth quarter. He scored 20 points and added 11 rebounds on the game. Mangat was also six for seven from the free throw line, with the majority of those shots coming in the fourth quarter.
Aman Dhillon added nine points, five rebounds and three assists, while Jo Gill grabbed seven rebounds and scored four points.
It’s the second straight year the Hurricanes have earned a provincial medal, after winning bronze last year. Dhillon and Twele said it’s a big achievement for the school.
“These guys have done a lot the last two years,” Twele said. “As well as being good basketball players, they’re good people. I think the school appreciates that. They have all worked really hard for this.”
For more on this story and a full wrap up from the boys tournaments, read Wednesday’s print edition of the Abbotsford News.