Top hoops talents coming to Langley

Best in B.C. high school hoops in December in the first annual Tsumura Basketball Invitational at the Langley Events Centre.

The Langley Events Centre is inviting the best in B.C. high school hoops to hit the hardwood early this coming December in the first annual Tsumura Basketball Invitational at the Langley Events Centre.

The two day event will take place on December 1 and 2, at the LEC, and will feature the top ranked boys and girls teams from the province’s big 10 pre-season rankings. The event will be the first chance of the 2012-13 season for fans to see the top teams play in a preview of the respective AAA tournaments taking place at the LEC in March of 2013.

The event is named in recognition of Howard Tsumura (high school sports writer at The Province since 1990), a long time supporter of all amateur athletics in B.C., and a respected and prominent figure on the boys and girls hoops scene.

“To be asked by the staff in Langley and at the LEC to be involved in such an exciting way to start the high school basketball season, wow, what an honour. I can’t wait for December,” said Tsumura.

For the girls, it will be an early season test for the defending champion and #1 ranked South Kamloops Titans (Kamloops), as they will face the #2 ranked Brookswood Bobcats (Langley).  Both teams feature a strong core of returning players from last season, and are expected to be competing for a title when the AAA girls championships are hosted at the LEC for the first time come March.

Bobcats Coach Neil Brown knows what to expect from South Kamloops: “Emma Wolfram was the B.C.’s Most Valuable Player and will attract scholarship offers from all over North America, but they are a very deep team behind her. They won the AAA championship and finished second in the Junior championships, so there’s a lot of talented players for us to match up with early in the season.”

For the boys, with a dearth of returning players both the #1 ranked Walnut Grove Gators (Langley) and #2 ranked White Rock Christian Academy Warriors (White Rock) are expected to be in the mix for the 2013 AAA provincial championship. The boys teams will have their work cut out for them, however, as they each will be facing Findlay Prep from Las Vegas, Nevada.

“We are extremely excited and honored to be a part of this event. Our students will have a great opportunity to experience this part of Canada and be able to perform in an excellent venue,” Findlay Prep Associate Head Coach Todd Simon noted.

The expected roster for Findlay Prep when they visit Canada in December should feature three of ESPN’s Top 100 high school basketball recruits from the class of 2013, including 6’3” shooting guard Allerik Freeman (undecided), 6’3” point guard Nigel Williams-Goss (Washington 2013), and 6’10” power forward Christian Wood (UNLV 2013).

Walnut Grove’s head coach George Bergen looks forward to the opportunity.

“Obviously, these are some of the top players in all of high school basketball. This is very exciting news for the B.C. basketball community, to get a glimpse of what ball south of the border looks like at its highest level. It’ll be a great challenge and one that I’d like to thank the LEC for organizing.”

Findlay Prep finished the 2011-12 season 32-1, and as the Powerade Fab50 number 2 ranked boys team in the country, behind only Oak Hill Academy. Findlay highlighted their season by winning the ESPN Rise National High School invitational Championship for the 3rd time in the past four seasons. In the past three years alone, Findlay Prep Basketball has produced first round NBA draft picks.

“Findlay Prep has a long history of producing exceptional basketball talent,” Trinity Western University men’s basketball coach Scott Allen noted. “Their roster is stock full of big, athletic players who are going to provide a unique challenge for the teams; the fans who come are going to see players who           will excel at the NCAA level and in the next few years should hear their names called in the NBA draft.”   Allen assisted with the logistics of bringing the games to the LEC.

The weekend promises to be a ‘must see’ for basketball enthusiasts, players and coaches alike.  Game times and further teams competing in the inaugural Tsumura Basketball Invitational will be announced in September.  Tickets for the weekend will also go on sale at that time.  For more information, watch for news as it’s available.