Brentwood brings home bronze from B.C.’s

Not expecting a medal, Brentwood places third at provincials

Brentwood College School played to a surprise bronze medal at the AA boys basketball provincial championships in Langley last weekend.

Head coach Blake Gage wasn’t expecting a medal, although he knew it was a possibility based on the depth and talent of his team.

“It was not an end goal,” he admitted. “We just wanted to play well. I did feel that the team was peaking at the right time and if we played well were capable of making a run.”

After winning provincial titles in 2017 and 2018, Brentwood finished a disappointing 13th last year. Gage stated prior to this year’s tournament that the goal was to win the first game, then see what happened after that.

That mission was accomplished last Wednesday when Brentwood downed Clarence Fulton 74-28. Jack Napier-Ganley led the team offensively with 19 points and added four steals, Feury Kelly had 12 points, and Juan Navarro and Dylan Gage each added 11 points. Navarro also grabbed 14 rebounds, and Ifeanyi Ayadiuno finished with four assists.

The quarter-final on Thursday was a closer contest, but Brentwood emerged with a 69-61 victory over Abbotsford Christian. Shaw Blaisdell had a team-high 22 points, Navarro added 14 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, and Napier-Ganley chipped in 11 points. Blaisdell, Ayadiuno and Olin Dahlstrom all had three steals.

With that, Brentwood advanced to the semifinal on Friday, which they lost 69-55 to Charles Hays.

“The semifinal was a bit of an eye-opener for our young team,” Gage commented. “We were badly out-competed in the first half and were in a big hole. We were down 20 at half. This team has a lot of fight though, and did not back down and scrapped their way back into the game. Early in the fourth, we cut the deficit to four and had lots of momentum but couldn’t quite turn the corner. Charles Hays is a veteran team and stayed poised, executed well and made some big shots down the stretch. While it was disappointing to not earn the win, I was super proud of the effort the boys put forward.”

Blaisdell put up 18 points, while Navarro had 11 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Napier-Ganley added eight points and four steals, and Justin Watt had 11 rebounds.

Brentwood regrouped after that loss and finished the tournament with an 81-52 victory over Island rivals Lambrick Park.

“Always hard to bounce back after a loss at Provies, but I should not have been surprised with the resolve and fight they showed in the bronze-medal game,” Gage said. “The boys played great and just flat-out wanted it more than Lambrick.”

Blaisdell led the way once again with 20 points, while Napier-Ganley had 16 points, four steals. Dahlstrom put up 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Navarro finished with 10 rebounds, six points and six assists.

Blaisdell was named a first-team all-star, and Navarro was picked for the second team.

“Shaw and Juan were certainly deserving all-stars,” Gage said. “But we got big contributions from everyone all week long. Jack Napier-Ganley was particularly impressive at both ends of the floor. He averaged 14 points for the tourney and absolutely locked up the opposing team’s best guard in each and every game we played.”

The team will lose three seniors to graduation, including Navarro.

“Juan Navarro will be a big loss,” the coach stated. “He did not play with the gold-medal team [in 2018], but practiced with them and understood what was needed from a leadership perspective. He was a rock for us.”

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Seen here in a game at the Island championships, Brentwood forward Juan Navarro was named a second-team all-star at the provincial AA boys basketball championships in Langley last weekend. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

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