The Mountain Christian Rams boys’ basketball team has missed their chance to return to the single ‘A’ provincials after placing third at this year’s zone championships hosted on their home court.
With two available provincial berths to go toward the zones finalists, the Rams fell short by four points after losing 60-56 to the Cedars Christian Eagles of Prince George in the second semifinal on Saturday afternoon.
The Eagles, who reached the semifinals with three straight wins on the losing side of the double-elimination bracket, used some hot shooting in the second half to overcome a 15-point deficit in the third, dashing the Rams’ hopes of a second consecutive visit to the B.C. championships in Langley.
“We had a 15-point lead in the third and they just chipped away at it,” said Rams head coach Josh Slykhuis on Saturday at the Bethel Christian campus gym. “They hit 9-for-9 on jump shots and our legs went.”
Brothers Jenkin and Jayden Wilson caught fire in the third for the Eagles, combining for 19 points in the frame while shutting down the Rams’ offence.
The two guards would finish the game with 41 total points, while Rams senior point guard Dave Hutchinson had 17 points and Russ Moody added 11 in the losing effort.
Although they beat the Eagles 60-41 in the first round on Thursday, Slykhuis Knew the Rams couldn’t take the Eagles lightly in their second matchup.
“There was no surprise there. We watched them get better every game this tournament, so we new it was going to be a dog fight with them – it always is with them,” said Slykhuis, whose Rams came in to the tournament seeded second.
“We knew that the whole middle of the pack [of bracket] was wide open,” he added.
The Rams, were likely feeling the effects of their first semifinal loss, Saturday morning, to top seeded Northside Academy of Vanderhoof, B.C.
“We gave Northside a run for their money, and you could tell that we were feeling it our second game [versus Cedars]. All our shots were just a little bit short or we weren’t jumping as high for the rebounds,” said Slykhuis.
“They are a great three-point shooting team, they play well, move quickly and they have a lot of size,” Slykhuis said about Northside, who went on to win the tournament handily with a 73-37 victory over Cedars.
Despite 14 points against Northside from Hutchinson, the Rams fell short, 55-38, sending them to the losing side to face the Eagles, while Northside would await the winner.
In the finals, Northside’s point guard Tristan Martens led all scorers with 17 and teammate Clayton Unger had 15. Unger would eventually be named tournament MVP.
Hutchinson took home first-team all-star honours, while Rams’ Ruben Ross would be named to the second-team squad. Meanwhile, Rams’ Eric Labrentz received all-team sportsman recognition for excellent play and sportsmanship.