Sports

Wildcats head of the class at RCMP Classic

Watched by his coach Mike McKay, Tamanawis Wildcat Sukhjot Bains (25) uses his height against John Tusi of the Fleetwood Park Dragons in the championship game of the 23rd annual Surrey RCMP Classic boys’ high school basketball tournament on Jan. 18 at Enver Creek Secondary School. Tamanawis won 88-46 with Bains named the MVP. - BOAZ JOSEPH / THE LEADER
Watched by his coach Mike McKay, Tamanawis Wildcat Sukhjot Bains (25) uses his height against John Tusi of the Fleetwood Park Dragons in the championship game of the 23rd annual Surrey RCMP Classic boys’ high school basketball tournament on Jan. 18 at Enver Creek Secondary School. Tamanawis won 88-46 with Bains named the MVP.
— image credit: BOAZ JOSEPH / THE LEADER

The Tamanawis Wildcats came up short a year ago, losing the championship game of the Surrey RCMP Classic.

It was a loss still on their mind Saturday night, when they took to the floor at Enver Creek Secondary against the Fleetwood Park Dragons. Ninety minutes later, the Wildcats completed a dominant run through the competition at the 23rd annual all-Surrey high school basketball tournament with an 88-46 victory in the final game.

“I think we came out with a lot of energy, it meant a lot to the guys after losing in the final last year,” said Tamanawis head coach Mike McKay, referring to an 89-70 loss to the White Rock Christian Academy Warriors. “They took it hard last year and wanted to come out and make up for it.”

The Wildcats were successful at both ends of the court through the opening 20 minutes, frustrating the Dragons offense while building an early 30-point lead.

Akash Grewal started the scoring with a three-point shot to give the Dragons their only lead of the game at 3-0 just seconds in. His second trey minutes later cut a Tamanawis lead to 8-6, but it was the only points the Dragons could score in the opening quarter.

By the time Fleetwood Park had their first two-point bucket of the game it was early in the second quarter when the Wildcats had raced out to a 36-6 advantage. Their lead didn’t drop below 28 points the rest of the way.

“They (the players) knew we had to have a good start, and we did in all four games of the tournament,” said McKay. “I think we held them (Fleetwood Park) to 13 points in the first half, which was very good.”

Sukhjot Bains finished with 38 points to lead all Wildcats scorers, with Sukhraj Biring and Sukhman Sandhu netting 14 each.

Grewal, who hit another three-point bucket in the second half, was the top Fleetwood Park player on offense with nine points.

Throughout the week, Tamanawis demonstrated why they are ranked second among Senior AAAA teams in B.C. Their 42-point win over Fleetwood Park in the final was their lowest margin of victory in the tournament.

In their championship run, Tamanawis defeated the Princess Margaret Lions 97-44 on Tuesday, humbled the Queen Elizabeth Royals 111-30 on Wednesday, then stopped the Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers 95-52 in Friday night’s semifinal game.

“They definitely had a chip on their shoulder and they proved they’re the class team of the tournament,” said Fleetwood Park head coach Nick Day. “Placing second out of 23 teams isn’t bad but we wanted to make it more of a game and we fell just a bit short.”

For Tamanawis, it was their second RCMP Classic title in three seasons, while for the Dragons it was their fifth loss in as many trips to the final.

“We’ve been to the final five times and we’ve been pounded every time, so what do you do?” asked Day. “It was WRCA four times and now these guys. It’s disappointing, but they’re a very good team.”

The Dragons won’t see the Wildcats again this season, as Fleetwood Park is one of the top-ranked Senior AAA teams in B.C.

“We start three Grade 11 so we’re a young team,” said Day. “They have their sights on competing for a 4A title, we have our sites set on competing for a 3A title. So the goals are the same for both teams.”

Bains was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, with Curtis Harvey of the Semiahmoo Totems winning the Most Inspirational Player award.

First-team tournament all-stars included Sukhraj Biring of Tamanawis, Nick Smith of Lord Tweedsmuir, Nimrit Plaha of the Panorama Ridge Thunder, Filip Samardzic of the Johnston Heights Eagles and Skylar Sheehan of Semiahmoo. The second-team was comprised of Brett Norris of Lord Tweedsmuir, Anoop Nahal of the North Surrey Spartans, Sukhman Sandhu of the Wildcats and Kevin Alexandrov and Emeka Okuma of Fleetwood Park.

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