The Caledonia gym was host to some of the most exciting Senior Boys Basketball in years as the hometown Kermodes took on the Queen Charlotte Saints for the AAA Northwest Zone Championships March 2.
The Saints were granted a late entry into the AAA division from their traditional single A tier to compete at a higher level, and that they did. The Saints would have easily taken the A or AA zone championship but wanted to compete against the best in the zone. And it was down to the last seconds of the final game to decide the zone representative for the AAA Provincial Championships in Langley March 12-16.
The lively crowds were treated to a roller coaster of lead changes, emotions and athletic plays at both ends of the court over the best of three series. It was a nostalgic time for many longtime fans as it reminded them of years past with bleachers full of fans on each side. Spectators left each game with hearts pumping, ears ringing and wanting to see more great entertainment.
The first game was closer than the final score indicated. The pumped up Kermodes came out with a 46-36 first half lead thanks to a balanced scoring attack.
And the third quarter sealed the deal as they outscored the Saints 24-13 to take a 70-49 lead going into the final frame. Led by a strong performance from senior Kynan Finnie with 21 points off the bench, the Kermodes rolled to an 89-69 victory.
The Saints were led by Grade 11 standout Nathan Vogstad with 23 points, Duncan Rumak 20 points, and 13 from Grade 12 leader Joel Richardson. Kermodes countered with 22 from Reegin Maki, Marcus MacKay with 17, Brennan Jay with 13 and Patrick Kurek with nine.
Game two was a nailbiter – back and forth with 14 lead changes and some tightened up defence at both ends. The Kermodes led 13-12 after the first quarter, but then got into early foul trouble, having both Reegin Maki and Marcus MacKay sit for a good portion of the first half.
The Saints came back to take a 27-26 lead at the half. The Saints’ Nathan Vogstad was in the zone, hitting clutch shot after shot, while the Kermodes were missing contested shots in the lane as the Saints’ young Grade 10 phenom, Jesse Barnes, blocked shot after shot.
Going into the fourth quarter, the Saints led 45-41 and the dynamic duo of Richardson and Vogstad for the Saints continued to cause the Kermode defence headaches as they wowed the crowd with their outstanding shot making skills.
The final quarter was very exciting and the game came down to the last second. With senior Marcus MacKay fouling out with five minutes left in the game, the Saints thought they would cruise to victory – but just when you thought the Saints were going to pull away, Patrick Kurek came back to hit one three-point shot after another to keep the Kermodes within striking distance.
With the four seconds left and the score 67-62, Kermode Brennan Jay was fouled on a shot that went in putting him on the line to shoot one foul shot with the score now 67-64.
Kermodes called a timeout and drew up a play that involved missing the foul shot and tipping the ball out to Kermode players stationed outside the three-point line. The plan worked but the aggressively contested shot by Kynan Finnie bounced off the rim to preserve a Saints win.
The Kermodes shot a dismal five for 18 from the charity stripe which was a key to their game two loss. The crowd was impressed with the outstanding 38-point performance from Saints’ Nathan Vogstad.
Game three was full of drama as once again it came down to the last seconds to decide the champion. Kermodes took an early lead 19-13 after the first quarter but the Saints chipped away and converted on a couple of costly Kermode turnovers late in the half to cut the Kermode lead to one point at 33-32.
The second half was an entertainment bonanza as the score went back and forth and the third quarter ended with the game tied at 52 each.
Kermode Brennan Jay was given the task of defending Saint standout guard Vogstad. Jay was able to hold Vogstad to just nine points throughout the game – and then, like Kermode Marcus MacKay in game two, Vogstad fouled out with four minutes left in the game. Senior Saint Joel Richardson picked up the scoring slack though and put on a show for the crowd as he and Duncan Rumak kept them in the game.
In the final minute the Kermodes went up 68-61 on key three-point shots from MacKay and Jay, but it was showtime for Richardson who hit two deep contested three-point shots to bring the score to 68-67 with 18 seconds left. Kermodes played keep away until MacKay buried a three-point shot with four seconds left on the clock. Kermodes held on for an exciting victory.
Kermodes received the AAA Championship banner and trophy for their efforts. All-Star Awards were awarded to Joel Richardson and Duncan Rumak of the Saints while Kermodes Patrick Kurek, Marcus MacKay and Reegin Maki collected the honours for the Kermodes. The defensive player of the series was awarded to Kermode Brennan Jay.