The Oak Bay versus St. Michaels University School rivalry continued onto the hardwood on Saturday night in the final of the Gary Taylor Alumni tournament.
Played in front of a lively, jam-packed Oak Bay gymnasium, the host Bays hung on for a thrilling and edgy 60-56 championship win over the SMUS Blue Jags.
The final became heated with 2:59 to go when push led to shove and teams had to be separated as coaches came onto the floor to help officials, who took a minute so both teams could gather themselves.
Six-foot-seven centre Mac Catto gave the Blue Jags their first lead of the game, burying a three-pointer from well out to make it 53-52 SMUS with 4:15 to go. The visitors then appeared to go up by three, but the officials waved it off on a holding call on Mark Yorath, which turned the game around.
Oak Bay’s Noah Harris came right back down and canned his own three-pointer just before the heated exchange, that even drew some careless fans onto the court, ever so briefly.
The tournament’s most valuable player, Liam Horne, made some clutch free throws down the stretch as Oak Bay held on.
“They’ve always been a good ball club, they played hard and we just tried to play hard and play our game to beat them,” said Horne. “It’s a great feeling to win your own tournament. We had all our fans here and it was great to pull it off for them.”
Horne finished with 18 points for the Bays while Jake Miller added 14 in the win.
Keiler Totz had 15 for the Blue Jags while Catto finished with 11 before fouling out of the game with 5.5 seconds remaining.
“I thought there were two huge plays in the game — the holding foul on Yorath on a screen that I would like to see on tape,” said SMUS coach Ian Hyde-Lay. “There was a lot of physical play. To pull a call out of the hat that late on a play where we scored a basket where we would have been up three.
“Then Noah Harris made the big three-pointer to put them back up by two,” Hyde-Lay said of the second big play. “We can’t complain though. We had some great looks down the stretch. We just didn’t make them.
“I thought that over the 40 minutes, Oak Bay was a little bit better than us, certainly in the first 25 minutes, so credit to them. We knew it was going to be close and it was.”
Hyde-Lay wasn’t being critical of the officials. In fact, he gave them credit for separating the two teams during the brief tussle.
“They did a great job settling everything down. They did a super job. It was tough, pressure atmosphere,” he said. “There were a lot of tough calls to make and refs don’t get enough kudos.
“They handled a very physical game, very, very well and handled that little fracas very well,” stressed Hyde-Lay.
Oak Bay led 19-15 after the opening quarter and 36-25 at the half when Miller made three straight from the free-throw line.
The Bays carried a 12-0 run from late in the second quarter to early in the third quarter before the Blue Jags replied with their own 12-0 run and cut the Oak Bay lead to 48-45 after three quarters.
That set up the intense final quarter.
“The rugby rivalry is there and the basketball rivalry is there, but in the end these boys are all good friends,” said Bays coach Chris Franklin.
“Hydes [Hyde-Lay] calmed his boys down and we did the same and the refs did a great job. They took a minute for cooler heads to prevail. They handled it exactly the way it should be handled,” added Franklin.
“Our two teams are friends, they want to beat each other for bragging rights, but they’re good friends. It’s a good, healthy rivalry and it’s fun. Like I said before, we seem to find each other in tournaments.”
The setback was the first defeat of the year for the Blue Jags, who are ranked No. 1 in double-A play in the province.
In the bronze-medal game, Vancouver College routed Campbell Collegiate of Regina by upwards of 50 points.
SMUS won the junior title 50-46 in overtime over Vancouver College.
© Copyright 2013