By: Mike Edwards
It was a long time coming, but the SMUS Blue Jags Provincial dream has finally become a reality. The Blue Jags defeated the Delview Raiders 66-40 in convincing fashion Saturday night to capture the BC AA Provincial Title, a win that is even more special for the seniors on the team after their heartbreaking loss in the Provincial Final one year ago.
This time around, however, the Blue Jags had their way. SMUS was nothing short of dominant in the tournament, winning each of their four games by at least a 26 point margin. The team's stretch of dominance can be extended back to their January 27 game against Claremont, the first of an 18 game win streak to close their season. It was truly a storybook ending to what has been a lengthy journey for many Blue Jags.
“I could not be more proud of this squad.” said senior guard Jake Wilmott, “This [Provincial Championship] was years in the making and we finally did it.”
The Blue Jags got off to a good start in the game, opening on a 16-4 run. But the Raiders clawed back to cut the SMUS lead to 19-13 after one quarter of play. Wilmott, Matty McColl and Callum Montgomery scored 4 points each in the first for the Jags.
The two teams played each other evenly in the second, as SMUS took a slim 29-22 lead into the break. Jason Scully led the way at recess with 9 points, McColl contributed 5 points and 7 rebounds and Wilmott chipped in with 4 points and 6 assists in the opening 20 minutes.
The Blue Jags exploded in the third quarter, pulling away from the Raiders to take a commanding 48-29 lead heading to the final frame. In the fourth, SMUS all but put the game to bed, highlighted by an emphatic Jason Scully jam off a beautiful feed from Montgomery. The dunk put an exclamation point on the Blue Jags Provincial Title win, by a final score of 66-40.
Scully finished as the high point man for the Jags, dropping in 21 points to go along with 9 rebounds and 3 blocks, and earned Player of the Game honours. Meanwhile, Graeme Hyde-Lay recorded 16 points and 7 rebounds, Wilmott totaled 11 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds, Montgomery chipped in with 6 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists and McColl hauled in a team high 11 boards for SMUS.
In the awards ceremony, Hyde-Lay was awarded the tournament MVP, Scully and Wilmott were named to the first all-star team and Max Pollen received Defensive Player of the Tournament honours. In addition, Blue Jags Head Coach Ian Hyde-Lay was named as the Coach of the Tournament.
“It feels great to have all our hard work pay off to win the Provincial Championship.” said G. Hyde-Lay, “I’m really honoured to be chosen for the MVP award, but most of all really proud of the boys for an amazing season.”
“I’m obviously extremely happy about how we finished up our season and our win really represents the way we’ve tried to play all year.” added Scully, “It feels great to close out the final which we weren't able to do last year.”
Despite the excellent streak of basketball throughout February and March that capped off the Blue Jags season, the 2014-15 campaign wasn’t all a smooth ride for the Blue Jags.
“Probably the best thing that could have happened to us was getting trounced by Semiahmoo on January 22.” said Coach Hyde-Lay following the game, “That game led us to really focus on our defence and rebounding. I know it’s a cliché, but defence and rebounding is what wins championships.”
“All the way through the team’s work ethic has been terrific.” continued Hyde-Lay, “It was a very sweet way to wrap up the last number of years with this core of players.”
For the 10 graduating Blue Jags (Hyde-Lay, Scully, Wilmott, McColl, Montgomery, Pollen, Liam Catto, Angus Catto, Alex Caton, and David Lee), they could not have asked for a better ending to their season and their high school basketball careers. Now, with the basketball and soccer Provincial Championships already in the bank, the attention turns to rugby as SMUS looks to complete the rare triple of three Provincial Championships in one year.