First-ever title for Wildcats

Manny Dulay of the Tamawis Wildcats drives to the hoop during the final game of the RCMP Classic on Saturday night. Tamanawis beat the White Rock Christian Academy Warriors 68-66 in overtime, earning the Tamanawis squad its first-ever title in the 21-year history of the tournament. - GORD GOBLE / CONTRIBUTOR
Manny Dulay of the Tamawis Wildcats drives to the hoop during the final game of the RCMP Classic on Saturday night. Tamanawis beat the White Rock Christian Academy Warriors 68-66 in overtime, earning the Tamanawis squad its first-ever title in the 21-year history of the tournament.
— image credit: GORD GOBLE / CONTRIBUTOR

Five minutes of overtime was needed to decide the Surrey RCMP Classic Saturday night at Enver Creek Secondary.

But after a 68-66 win by the Tamanawis Wildcats over the White Rock Christian Academy (WRCA) Warriors, coaches for both high school basketball teams say the tournament champion was all that was settled.

“Hats off to White Rock, they’re a great team” said Tamanawis coach Surinder Grewal, celebrating the school’s first RCMP Classic title in the tournament’s 21-year history. “But all this is is a city championship. Tomorrow, we have to wake up and do it over again. We’re going to see these guys two or three more times.”

Which is fine with Warriors head coach John Dykstra.

“We love playing Tamanawis, and I think Tamanawis loves playing us,” he said. “They’re always good games, with both of us (ranked provincially) in the top ten and all that.”

As rivals in the Fraser Valley South West division, the two teams will meet again in league play, probably again in the league playoffs, and possibly one more time at the Fraser Valley tournament. Both are favoured to qualify for the B.C. championship tournament in March.

The only two teams among the 24 entered in the RCMP Classic ranked among B.C.’s top 10 – Tamanawis third and WRCA sixth – it was no surprise they clashed in the final. The Wildcats faced their toughest test in the semifinal, where they defeated the Southridge Storm 67-63. WRCA’s closest contest was a 68-56 victory over the Princess Margaret Lions last Wednesday.

Saturday night, there was little separating the two best high school basketball teams in Surrey. Tamanawis opened the contest with a 10-2 run, and that eight-point advantage would be the largest of the game. The Warriors came back to go 18-12, but by halftime, the Wildcats led 30-29.

Tamanawis would build the lead up to six points at 53-47 by three-quarter time, but were tied 61-61 after four quarters.

Both teams saw the lead in overtime. Sukhjot Bains put the Wildcats in front with a three-point shot, but WRCA guard Tyus Allen tied the game with a trey, then stole the ball and scored on a lay-up for a 66-64 Warriors lead, but that was the end of White Rock’s scoring.

Shivi Viria calmly drained a shot from beyond the arc to put Tamanawis up 67-66 with 90 second to play. Ravjot Dhaliwal added one from the free throw line with 22 seconds left, then the Wildcats defended against a last-second Warriors attempt to force a second overtime.

“Tonight was not our night,” said Dykstra. “We played well enough to get it into overtime. We want to be playing our best basketball in about four weeks. But I’m impressed, we’re ahead of where I thought we might be at this point of the season.”

Manny Dulay, later named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, led the Wildcats offence with 25 points, including seven treys. Bains added 15 points, and was a first team all-star.

Allen led the Warriors with 23 points, with Jake Newman adding another 20. Both were also named to the first all-star team.

For Grewal, the win was his first as a coach, but his third RCMP Classic championship. As a student, he led the Queen Elizabeth Royals to the title in 1997 and 1998, winning tournament MVP honours both times.

“I feel like I’m back in 1998,” he said. “To watch these guys experience what I experienced, you couldn’t ask for anything more.”

FREE THROWS: Ben Severide of Southridge and Rajan Rai of the Enver Creek Cougars completed the first all-star team. Second team selections were Harman Basra of the North Surrey Spartans, Henry Flowers of Princess Margaret, Viria of Tamanawis, Gurkat Kular of Enver Creek and Kris Baerg of WRCA.

Seye Akinsanmi of Princess Margaret was the Most Inspirational Player, and the Lions received the Doug Jennings Award as the most sportsmanlike team.

n Enver Creek placed third, defeating Southridge 71-57 in the consolation game Saturday. The Cougars led 24-11 after one quarter and never looked back. Khular with 21 points, Justin Bhangoo with 16 and Rai with 15 were the top scorers for the Cougars.

Severide with 20 and Jonathan Yu with 12 paced the Storm. Shahbaj Dhillon also scored in double figures, netting 11 points.

n After losing their first game of the tournament, the Kwantlen Park Timberwolves came back to win the Pool B title, edging the Semiahmoo Totems 74-72.

Temi Dele-Dare and Connor Prentice of Kwantlen Park, William Xie and Shane Zhang of the Totems and Seth Sorenson of the Pacific Academy Breakers were named tournament all-stars.

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