For the first time in its 50-year history, the GP Vanier senior boys basketball team won the Island championship.
Saturday in Nanaimo, the Towhees defeated the Reynolds Roadrunners of Victoria 62-48 to win the triple-A tournament, and claim the top Island seed heading into the B.C. championships March 6-9 in Langley.
The final was relatively close throughout, but Towhees coach Larry Street said Reynolds had trouble scoring on Vanier’s tough defensive zones.
“This particular group of Grade 11s actually have won the Islands three years in a row, and their will proved why to everyone watching,” Street said.
Jakob Tortorelli — who was named tournament MVP and top defensive player — led the Towhees with 25 points and five steals. First-team all-star selection Peter Greaves added 18 points and 12 rebounds. Cam Bell scored five points, four assists, seven rebounds and “heady play,” Street said.
Vanier beat Vic High 85-49 in their opener, and Carihi 72-52 in the semis. Towhees guard Macyn Leopkey-Johnson was named to the second all-star team.
The previous weekend, Vanier had beaten the host Isfeld Ice in the final of the North Island Championships.
“Being basically a Grade 11 team, we needed to grow immensely for about three-quarters of the season, steadily improving,” Street said. “Winning the North Island was the start of something big, and now we are heading into peak performance territory. Even this week of practice we will get better.
“Our goal all year was to be final four (in B.C.),” Street added. “If that happens, anything can happen. Hopefully we will get a good seeding and a reasonable first-round matchup.”
After losing 61-56 to Reynolds in the semis, Isfeld beat the host John Barsby to finish third at Islands — and to claim the third Island berth to provincials. By so doing, the Ice qualified for its sixth straight provincial appearance.
In the opening round, Isfeld defeated an overmatched Royal Bay 74-43. After the loss to Reynolds, the Ice beat Esquimalt 87-74 in a do-or-die meeting. In the third-place game, they defeated the Barsby Bulldogs 76-49. Isfeld coach Tom Elwood said Jacob Volkers played his finest game of the season, holding Barsby’s leading scorer Ethan Hart to nine points while “shredding the Bulldogs for 14 on the way to player-of-the-game honours.”
Thaskani and Temwa Mtawali of Isfeld earned first-team all-Island honours. Aiden McDonald was selected to the second team.