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Oak Bay beats Spectrum for Island title in battle of B.C. hoops giants

Oak Bay advances to provincials; Spectrum will play challenge game against Belmont
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Spectrum forward Justin Hinrichsen drives to the basket against Oak Bays’s Diem Orser, left, and Corrado Ceretti during the ­gold-medal game of the Island 4A Boys Basketball Championship on Saturday night at UVic’s CARSA gym. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

The holders’ grip proved hard to pry loose.

Oak Bay won its ninth ­consecutive Island boys’ Quad-A high school basketball ­championship by denying the Spectrum Thunder its first title since 1990.

The Bays defeated the Thunder 79-66 in the championship game Saturday night amid a din created by a near-capacity crowd of more than 2,000 fans on Ken and Kathy Shields Court in CARSA gym on the University of Victoria campus. The final had to be moved to the larger venue due to the high interest in the game featuring the two top-ranked teams in B.C.

“It’s like those great B.C. 1-2 battles of the 1960s between Porky Andrew’s Vic High and Gary Taylor’s Oak Bay teams,” said Oak Bay athletic director Rich Fast.

Oak Bay head coach Chris Franklin concurred: “I can’t remember a year in which two teams played at such a level as this with such quality players.”

Grade 11 Spectrum star Justin Hinrichsen will have to wait until next year to potentially join his dad, former UVic Vikes national champion and 2000 Sydney Olympian Eric Hinrichsen, as an Island champion and MVP — something the elder Hinrichsen pulled off in 1994 with the Carihi Tyees of Campbell River en route to third place in B.C. that year.

But standing in the way will be this year’s Island tournament MVP Toren Franklin of Oak Bay, who is also in Grade 11.

“It’s awesome to join those great names of the past on this MVP trophy,” said Franklin, referring to the likes of Hinrichsen, two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash, fellow-Olympian Billy Robinson, NBA draft-pick Bob Burrows and current UVic star and Canada West MVP Diego Maffia.

It is such a hard award to win that not even Olympians and UVic national champions ­Gerald Kazanowski or Greg Wiltjer were able to do it during their starry Island high school days.

Toren Franklin’s tenacity epitomized the B.C. No. 2-ranked Bays team, after it lost to B.C. top-ranked Spectrum by 22 points in the Lower Island final two weeks ago.

“Our intensity was the key. We never gave up. We just played really hard,” said Toren Franklin, the nephew of Bays head coach Chris Franklin, who guided the Bays to third place in B.C. last year.

“We worked hard every day for over a week and a half to get ready for the Islands.”

His uncle concurred: “After the 22 point loss to Spectrum, we had a plan, we focused, and we came back stronger,” said Oak Bay bench-boss and the elder Franklin.

The Bays advanced to the B.C. championships next month at the Langley Events Centre. Spectrum can be challenged for the second Island berth by the third-place Belmont Bulldogs. That game would go Tuesday night in the Spectrum school gym.

Meanwhile, the B.C. No. 4-ranked Dover Bay Dolphins were playing the Mark Isfeld Ice in the Island Triple-A boys’ high school championship game that was in progress at press time at Wellington Secondary. The Wellington Wildcats and Carihi Tyees were both honourable mentions in the provincial top-10 poll.

The Island Double-A ­championship took place late Saturday at Brentwood ­College with the host team playing the John Barsby Bulldogs in the final. The Lambrick Park Lions went in ranked No. 3 in B.C., Brentwood College No. 5 and the St. Michaels University School Blue Jags No. 6 with John Barsby an honourable mention. The Single-A championship game in Duncan was between Duncan Christian and Campbell River Christian.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com