by Gary Ahuja/Langley Events Centre
Gator Nation ruled the hardwood as Walnut Grove teams took three of four of the Langley District basketball championship titles on Thursday afternoon at Langley Events Centre.
The Walnut Grove Gators prevailed in both the Grade 8 girls and boys divisions – defeating Langley Christian and Yorkson Creek, respectively – as well as the Junior Boys title, with a win over Brookswood. Only the Brookswood Bobcats prevented a clean Walnut Grove sweep, stopping the Gators in the Junior Girls title game.
Grade 8 Girls
Trailing 16-11 early in the second quarter, there was no panic in the Walnut Grove Gators.
“They are Grade 8 kids so they get a little anxious sometimes,” explained Gators coach Grant Inkster.
The Gators were facing the Langley Christian Lightning in the Grade 8 Langley District Championship game on Thursday afternoon at Langley Events Centre, playing in an unfamiliar gym with a bit more hoopla than a typical game.
Many teams also play zone defence, daring a team to beat them with their outside shooting.
“We just had to move the ball and be patient, taking a better quality shot than we were. That is what we told them. You don’t know if it goes in one ear and out the other. You just hope something settles in that they can relate to execute and they did,” he said.
Following that early deficit, Walnut Grove scored 18 of the next 22 points to lead 29-20 at the half and then never looked back, cruising to the 47-25 victory.
Kiera Pemberton scored 11 of her game-high 16 points in the second quarter while Abby Adams had 14. Langley Christian was led by Ashlyn Grim’s 10 points.
“Winning the districts is always a goal we set for ourselves,” Inkster said.
The Gators have yet to lose this season, going 8-0 in league play and winning all five tournaments they have entered.
Both teams will compete at the Fraser Valley championships, and they will be joined by Yorkson Creek, Credo Christian, Brookswood and Archbishop Carney.
Grade 8 Boys
Down five points after one quarter, the Walnut Grove Gators clamped down defensively, holding the Yorkson Creek Wolves scoreless over the entire second quarter on route to the Grade 8 boys Langley District title.
Walnut Grove outscored the Wolves 43-14 over the final 24 minutes om their way to a 58-34 victory on Thursday afternoon.
In a back-and-forth first quarter, Yorkson Creek scored the final five points to lead 20-15, largely on the back of Mark Pagdilao, who had 10 of his team-high 17 points in the game’s opening eight minutes.
But a combination of the Walnut Grove defence and Yorkson Creek not being able to find any rhythm on the offensive side of the floor, allowed the Gators to take control with a 16-0 run over the period to lead 31-20 at the break.
Haydon Hall would finally break the drought two minutes into the third quarter after drilling a three-pointer, cutting the lead to 33-23. But the team could not build off that, scoring just three points the rest of the quarter, all of which came from the free throw line.
“They were prepared for our defence in the first quarter, so we changed it up,” said Walnut Grove coach JR Shin.
And offensively, the Gators were able to stretch the defence thanks to some strong three-point shooting, as they hit seven shots from beyond the arc.
Brendon Kim scored 19 points to lead the Gators.
Both teams advance to the Fraser Valley championships, and will be joined by Brookswood, Archbishop Carney, Langley Christian and H.D. Stafford.
The Brookswood Bobcats are back on top.
For the first time in five years, the Bobcats captured the Langley District Junior Girls basketball title.
“Langley is so competitive. Every year it can be any number of teams,” said Brookswood coach Sarah Cameron, referring to the fact Walnut Grove and Langley Christian had alternated to win the previous four District titles.
Thursday’s final was tight in the first quarter with Walnut Grove jumping out to an early 8-5 lead before Brookswood closed the first quarter on a 7-0 run for a 12-8 lead.
The ‘Cats opened the second quarter on a 9-0 run courtesy of a trio of triples from Aleena Bassan and never looked back, winning 61-27.
Cameron said the team’s ability to hit from downtown was huge – they hit 11 three-pointers, scoring more combined from beyond the arc than Walnut Grove had total points – as was their defensive effort.
“I thought we did a really good job on our help side [defence]. We are undersized pretty much every game we play so the way we were helping on #12 [Tabitha Knodel] was big for us, getting rebounds and hitting outside shots,” Cameron said.
Bassan finished with 15 points, all off three-pointers, while Cassidy Buchanan finished with 11 points and Kate Straforelli had 10 points. Hope Nystrom led Walnut Grove with a dozen points.
Joining the two teams at the Fraser Valley championships will be R.E. Mountain, Langley Christian and Credo Christian.
— Michael T (@bertouzeau) February 8, 2019
Just under two weeks ago, it took everything they had for the Walnut Grove Gators to fend off the Brookswood Bobcats, prevailing 60-57.
The two teams met once again on Thursday afternoon, just time in the Langley District Junior Boys championship game. But while Brookswood gave the Gators everything they had in that regular season game in late January, Walnut Grove was just too much in the rematch, cruising to the 56-33 victory.
The Bobcats entered the game averaging 66 points per game over the eight-game regular season, so the Gators held them to half that total, 33.
“I don’t think it was there best game and we played better than last time,” said Walnut Grove coach Terry Stead. “We started well, were intense from the beginning.”
The Gators led 17-7 after one quarter and 34-16 at the half. And after a slow start in the third quarter, the team’s defence made sure Brookswood could not make a dent in the double-digits lead.
“Our offence kind of had a hiccup at the beginning of the second half, but we kept our defensive intensity and that carried us through and then we got hot again and pulled away.”
Trevor Duffin led the Gators with 23 points, including a trio of three pointers, and Kevin Kao was six-for-eight from the free throw line to finish with 11 points.
Evan Kimm led Brookswood with 11 points as the Bobcats struggled to find the mark offensively, being held to single digits in all four quarters.
Both teams will now compete at the Fraser Valley championships and will be joined by a trio of other local schools: R.E. Mountain, Langley Christian and Credo Christian.