Braedan Willis, University of Victoria

The 3rd Annual Vikes Alumni Senior Boys Basketball Invitational proved hosted Dec. 28-30 showcased some top high school basketball and featured two varsity Vikes games. Over the three days, 12 games were played at the CARSA Performance Gym and were highlighted by the two non-conference Canada West exhibition matchups between the Victoria Vikes and visiting UNBC Timberwolves.

The Vikes put away the T-Wolves 80-78 and 82-76 in the two matches and will return to Canada West action this weekend, Jan. 4-5, hosting the Regina Cougars.

“I heard some very positive feedback from the eight participating high school teams. Furthermore, it was wonderful to see some twenty-five former Vikes in attendance, all of whom volunteered in the running of the event,” said Vikes Alumni chapter chair and Vikes Hall of Fame recipient Phil Ohl.

The tournament was supported by RBC Dominion Securities as presenting sponsor, and further backed from by the UVic Student Recruitment and Global Engagement department, as well as the UVic Bookstore.

“It would be extremely difficult to host the event without their considerable assistance,” added Ohl. “We are also grateful for being able to host the event at CARSA.”

The tournament participants included Juanita HS from Kirkland, Washington local contenders from Oak Bay and Vancouver College, as well as Alberta and Ontario teams in Harry Ainlay and St. Benedict Catholic.

Day 1 featured some sparkling individual performances as several of the pre-tournament favourites flexed their muscles. Trent Johnson’s 27-point game led St. Benedict to victory over an injury-riddled Rutland before Toni Maric displayed an imposing post presence as Vancouver College upended Juanita. Diego Maffia nailed seven first-quarter treys to help Oak Bay dispatched Luther College. In the last game of the day Harry Ainlay’s depth and balance proved too much for Claremont.

The second day of play produced four very competitive matches, with Luther College riding a combined 71 points from Andrew Vanderhooft, Caleb Racette and Josh Soifer to drop Rutland 86-77. Prabhjet Deol notched a game-high 28 in a losing cause. Despite 39 points from Claremont’s Ethan Boag, Juanita triumphed 74-67 over the Spartans led by Cameron Knowles and Cooper McLeod.

The two highly anticipated semifinals did not disappoint. St. Benedict’s Johnson (28 points) and Ben Mascarenhas (29 points) helped defeat the Oak Bay Maffia and reached the tournament final by a score of an 86-76. Despite the loss, there was much to admire from the Bays, with Ethan Moore, Jaime Palamos Molins and Ewan Mackenzie each playing with great determination.

In the second semifinal, Harry Ainlay was at another level yet again, giving a superb exhibition of spacing, ball movement and shooting in reaching the century mark en route to a 102-74 victory over Vancouver College. Mac Ntare led the way with 25, while Ajou Ajou and Josh Hoyt each chipped in with 20. For Vancouver College, guard Hunter Cruz-Dumont contributed a team-high 24.

On Day 3 Juanita made it two-straight wins by taking out Luther College, while Claremont defeated Rutland to finish in seventh place. In the bronze medal game, Maric’s inside dominance saw Vancouver College stave off pesky Oak Bay team by a final score of 81-76 to claim the medal.

The St. Benedict Saints and Harry Ainlay went toe-to-toe in the championship final in front of a bumper crowd of over 800. Multiple lead changes and scoring runs made for a thrilling tournament finale.

The Saints, led by Mascarenhas and guards Justin Ching and Rafael Llorin, grabbed a 22-18 first quarter lead. However, Ainlay scrapped back to draw level by halftime at 31-31 before going up by a single point entering the fourth quarter.

This final frame had a little bit of everything. Neither team could gain any meaningful separation until back-to-back threes made by Llorin and Ching gave St. Benedict a six- point lead. Undeterred, the Titans clawed their way back, with Ntare hitting a trey of his own with two minutes remaining to put Ainlay back in front 67-64. With 31 seconds remaining in the match, a powerful Ajou drive produced an “and one” bucket and a 72-70 advantage.

On St. Benedict’s last possession, a go-ahead three by Mascarenhas rimmed out, leaving Hoyt to make three free throws and so confirm a thrilling 75-70 triumph.

Plans are already in place for the December 2019 edition of the Vikes Alumni Senior Boys Invitational.

Tournament Results 

FRIDAY, December 28

Game 1            St. Benedict 115, Rutland 54               POG – Trent Johnson (St. Benedict)
Game 2            Vancouver College 81, Juanita 58      POG – Toni Maric (Vancouver College)
Game 3           Oak Bay 116, Luther College 65          POG – Diego Maffia (Oak Bay)
Game 4           Harry Ainlay 89, Claremont 54           POG – Owen Weaver (Harry Ainlay)

SATURDAY, December 29

Game 5           Luther College 86, Rutland 77            POG – Andrew Vanderhooft (Luther)
Game 6           Juanita 74, Claremont 67                   POG – Cameron Knowles (Juanita)
Game 7           St. Benedict 86, Oak Bay 76                 POG – Ben Mascarenhas (St. Benedict)
Game 8           Harry Ainlay 102, Van College 74       POG – Josh Hoyt (Harry Ainlay)

SUNDAY, December 30

Game 9           Claremont 86, Rutland 58                  POG – Joseph Reyes (Claremont)
Game 10         Juanita 83, Luther College 57              POG – Cameron Knowles (Juanita)
Game 11         Van College 81, Oak Bay 76                 POG – Jason Soriano (Van College)
Game 12         Harry Ainlay 75, St. Benedict 70         POGs – Mac Ntare (Harry Ainlay)
Rafael Llorin (St. Benedict)

FINAL STANDINGS

1. Harry Ainlay
2. St. Benedict
3. Vancouver College
4. Oak Bay
5. Juanita
6. Luther College
7. Claremont
8. Rutland

TEAM AWARD

Prabhjet Deol                          (Rutland)
Joseph Reyes                          (Claremont)
Caleb Racette                          (Luther College)
Cameron Knowles                  (Juanita)
Ewan Mackenzie                     (Oak Bay)
Kelly O’Brien                           (Vancouver College)
Rafael Llorin                            (St. Benedict)
Mac Ntare                               (Harry Ainlay)

ALL STAR TEAM

Toni Maric                               (Vancouver College)
Trent Johnson                          (St. Benedict)
Ben Mascarenhas                   (St. Benedict)
Ajou Ajou                                (Harry Ainlay)
Mac Ntare                               (Harry Ainlay)

TOURNAMENT MVP

Owen Weaver             (Harry Ainlay)