Sixth place a school-best for Cougars
With a sixth place finish that included four victories in five days, the Enver Creek Cougars proved they were not content with just qualifying for the B.C. Boys Senior AAA High School Basketball Championships.
Three straight victories after a loss Wednesday afternoon clinched sixth place for the Surrey school, its best placing in three trips to the provincial championship tournament, played this year at the Langley Events Centre.
“I told the team we didn’t win any banners, so there won’t be a 2012-13 basketball banner hanging in our gym,” said Cougars head coach Phil Deeks. “But I said ‘Guys, we’re the best team ever to play at this school.’ And after that, they were congratulating each other, and saying ‘We did it.’ ”
Their lone loss for Enver Creek was a 69-66 overtime defeat in the round-of-16 against the tournament runner-up White Rock Christian Academy Warriors.
White Rock Christian led 23-10 after one quarter and built the lead to 15 points before the first half ended 40-27 in favor of the Warriors. Enver Creek outscored the opposition 20-13 in the third quarter to get close, and pulled even by the end of regulation time.
Gurkirat Kular of Enver Creek was the top scorer from either team, netting 23 points, the total including a trio of three-point buckets. Rajan Gill with 12 and David Ahmad with 10 also scored in double digits. Gill with nine and Ahmad with eight were the top rebounders for the Cougars.
After the setback, the Cougars won three straight to place sixth at the 20-team tournament, and Deeks said the first win was the most important.
“How would we come back after the loss?” asked Deeks. “Even I was unsure. After the loss, we had to move on. Yeah, I was proud, they played hard. But I told them it was still Day One of the tournament. And our goal was now sixth place, and we had to come back the next day.”
Enver Creek topped the Handsworth Royals 73-54 that next day, less than 20 hours later, on Thursday morning. Kular with 21 points, Nicholas Jhauj with 19 and Gill with 10 were the offensive leaders for the Cougars.
“I could see the confidence,” said Deeks. “We were out of the championship. But we were going to finish it the best we could. At that point, I didn’t think we were going to lose again.”
The Cougars withstood a third-quarter rally by the Terry Fox Ravens on Friday afternoon, and won 65-59 to assure themselves of a top-eight placing, and the best-ever result by an Enver Creek team at the tournament. (The 2004 team placed ninth).
Enver Creek outscored the Ravens 20-7 in the second period to take a 34-22 advantage into the dressing room, but were up just two going into the final 10 minutes after Terry Fox held a 23-13 advantage in the third quarter.
Kular was the leader for the Cougars, scoring 28 points and collecting 10 rebounds. Jhauj with 15 points and Gill with 14 in just 24 minutes before fouling out were the other offensive standouts.
In their final game Saturday, Enver Creek dominated the second half to topple the Sardis Falcons 72-57. Tied 32-32 at halftime, the Cougars outscored the Falcons 25-16, and stretched their nine-point lead to 15 over the final 10 minutes.
Deeks left four starters on the court for the full 40 minutes, and Kular responded with 23 points and eight rebounds to lead the Enver Creek offence. Ahmad added 18 points and tied Gill for the team lead in rebounding with 10. Jhauj also netted 18 points.
“The leadership from our Grade 12s brought it all together,” said Deeks. “After the first game Tuesday (a 100-47 win over the Mt. Baker Wild), they saw what a great experience this tournament is. There’s the venue, and the coolness factor.
“They didn’t want to look back a few years from now and say, ‘yeah, we should have played better those last few games.’
“They wanted to make sure they gave it everything they had.”
Other members of the Cougars team were Gursodh Gill, Indu Deivendran, Parmeet Matharu, Ajay Hara, Jeetpal Grewal, Ripandeep Jaswal, Jayme Bains, Arpn Kainth, Aaron Nand and Steven Aujla. Amrit Manhas and Angleen Panaych were the team managers.