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Thrillers highlight high school hoop playoffs

Don Fennell   Feb-07-2018

McMath forward Ioan Popov battles Steveston-London’s Johnny Fang during first-round play Tuesday at the Richmond Secondary Schools Senior Boys Basketball Championships. McMath won 80-70. The Richmond final will be played Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Richmond High. The girls’ final is tonight (Wednesday) at 7 p.m. at McMath, with the host Wildcats facing Hugh Boyd Trojans.

Photo by Chung Chow

The 2018 Richmond Secondary Schools Senior Boys Basketball Championships tipped off Tuesday with a proverbial barn burner.

In a rematch of last year’s tournament final, regular-season champion McMath Wildcats (10-0) held on for a 80-70 victory over Steveston-London Sharks (6-4) in a memorable first-round tilt. The Sharks edged the Wildcats 94-87 in the 2017 Richmond title game.



“We’ve played enough games to know you’ve got to be ready every game, but we went cold,” said McMath co-coach Tony Wong Hen. “We started the first half shooting really well, then kept missing open shots in the third quarter.”

In contrast, the Sharks came out of the halftime break relaxed and routinely drained shots in the third quarter.

“I think it was a tale of two halves,” said Steveston-London coach Mike Stoneburgh. “We just played (the second half) with a mindset we had nothing to lose and went out and played hard.”

Opening-night action concluded with a second nail-biting finish, as third-place McNair Marlins (8-2) edged second-place Richmond Colts (9-1) 91-88 on their home turf.

Other first-round games saw Cambie Crusaders outscore McRoberts Strikers 80-48, while Palmer Griffins outscored Hugh Boyd Trojans 68-58.

Today (Wednesday), McRoberts will play Boyd at 2:15 p.m., Steveston-London will meet Richmond High at 4 p.m., Palmer and McNair square off at 5:45 p.m., and Cambie faces McMath at 7:30 p.m. The city championships conclude Thursday with the third-versus-fourth-place game at 5:45 p.m. and the Richmond championship game at 7:30 p.m.

While all eight participating teams will advance to the Lower Mainland championships, their placing in the city tournament will help determine their seedings in the regional events. McMath, Richmond, McNair and Steveston-London will play in the Mainland AAA championships Feb. 13 to 16 (at various sites) and Feb. 22 to 24 at the Richmond Olympic Oval. Palmer, Cambie, McRoberts and Boyd will play in the Mainland AA championships Feb. 15 at Palmer and Feb. 20 to 23 at the Richmond Olympic Oval.

•The Richmond secondary schools senior girls basketball championship will be decided tonight (Wednesday) at McMath. The host Wildcats, tops during the regular-season with a 7-0 record, will face Hugh Boyd in title game set to tip off at 7 p.m. Both McMath and Steveston-London will represent Richmond in the Lower Mainland AAA championships, where they will play for the Crehan Cup. The tournament goes Feb. 10 to 17, with the final at Carson Graham Secondary School.

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