Written by Scott Leigh, Handsworth Grad 2006
Here on Jones Ave. in North Vancouver, we had a semi-final matchup between the home squad, Carson Graham Eagles, versus the cross-town Kitsilano Blue Demons. The teams are playing for an opportunity to cinch coveted final spot in the 'No Regrets' Basketball Tournament this evening. Before the game starts, Carson has a visual advantage, at least from a fashion standpoint. Black No Regrets tees, Indiana Hoosier-like red and white striped tearaways and No Regrets socks have the Eagles soaring in warmup. Time will tell if this fashion statement translates into strong play on the court.
For a game starting at 10:45 am these kids came out with a ton of energy - must have had their Wheaties this morning! Carson has a clear strategy early - pressure, pressure, pressure… and then fast break. The athletic Blue Demons team is starting to find ways to break through the pressure for easy layups as they took their first lead of the game 6-5. An intriguing matchup between the undersized Chris Demetillo of the Eagles and the significantly taller athletic Tyrone Aschognar on the Blue Demons. This incredibly fast-paced first quarter, featuring a few too many turnovers for both teams, finishes with Kits up by 1.
Kits worked the half court 2-3 zone, which is slowed the Eagles down and forced them to shoot more deep shots. Every guy the Eagles bring into this game seems to come out with the same amount of energy as the last. Kits extreme athleticism and height advantage has them going toe-to-toe with the energized Eagles. If Carson can maintain this level of effort throughout the game, we could be in for a tight match with an exciting finish. Blair Shier, head of photography for the 'No Regrets' Basketball Tournament Committee, must have heard the street level chatter about this game as he assumed his position on the gym floor to snap pictures of the players. A number of poor passing decisions by Carson gave the Blue Demons transition buckets, extending their lead to 6 with 2 minutes to go in the half. At the half, Kits is up 30-23 over Carson Graham.
Eagles came flying out of the half getting themselves within 1 point after a couple minutes of play here in the second half. Aschognar, of the Blue Demons, has decided to take matters into his own hands, pushing the ball in transition and finishing a number of tough layups around the rim. Kits appears to have figured out the relentless pressure from the Eagles, as their lead was pushed to 14 points with under 2 minutes left in the third Q.
The chemistry of Kits came together in the second half and the result that may have been expected by most seems to be coming together. Once Kits was able to calm their nerves, the sheer size of the Blue Demons posed a difficulty for the Eagles. Carson Graham put up a resilient fight, but in the end Kits completed the W - Kits: 65 - Carson: 50.
Tonight’s boys final will be a matchup with historical significance, at least from the point of view of a 2006 Handsworth Royals Grad. Handsworth Royals met the Kitsilano Blue Demons in the provincial AAA final in 2006 when Quinn Keast was named Player-of-the-Final Game. They will tip-off tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Collingwood Secondary.