Brentwood College held what appeared to be a comfortable lead over Lambrick Park throughout the second half of the Island AA boys basketball final last Saturday, but that’s not quite how head coach Blake Gage saw it.
“The score was deceiving,” he said. “They’re such a dangerous team, I never felt like things were safe in that game.”
In the end, Brentwood prevailed by a solid 84-59 margin, claiming the Island title in their own gym and a berth in the provincial tournament.
“We were happy to win it, but we didn’t have any expectations,” said Gage, whose team has sat atop the provincial rankings for several weeks, and blazed through the North Island tournament the week before Islands.
Gage wasn’t as impressed by his team’s performance against Lambrick Park as he was with the play in a stunning 76-37 win over St. Michael’s University School in the semifinal on Friday night.
“I thought we played a really good game on Friday night,” he said. “Maybe our best game of the year. It was as close to a complete game as we’ve played in terms of effort.”
SMUS, who would go on to win the bronze medal and join Brentwood and Lambrick as provincial qualifiers, opted to rest many of their more experienced players once Brentwood went ahead by more than 30 points, Gage pointed out.
“They’re a good team,” he said. “For me, that was an impressive performance by our guys.”
Brentwood had previously dispatched Glenlyon Norfolk 69-25 in the first round of the tournament.
Brentwood’s Bruno Chan was named tournament MVP, while Aaron Shulga and Casper Poelen were named to the first all-star team and Brendan Sullivan was a second-team all-star alongside Shawnigan Lake School’s Tristan Mandur. Jonathan MacDonald was named Player of the Game in the final against Lambrick Park.
“I don’t feel we have one or two or even three guys who stand out,” Gage said. “We’re unique in that we play 12 guys, and they are all capable.”
This will be Brentwood’s first trip to the provincial tournament in three years, although most of the players were on the Brentwood team that won the junior boys B.C. title last year.
“Those guys have some big game experience, and they’ve been to the [Langley] Events Centre before,” Gage said. “Even the Grade 12s were there when they were in Grade 10. Most of the guys have been there before. The one key guy on our team who hasn’t is Nathan Pasloske. He’s become a big part of what we do here.”
Even though his team is ranked first in the province, Gage knows anything can happen at provincials, and that the other teams are also there for a reason.
“We keep getting better, which is what our goal has been,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll keep going with that as we go into provincials.”