THE King David Lions pulled off the upset, denying the Unity Christian Flames an opportunity for a third consecutive provincial banner.
Trailing by eight points with 7:35 to play, the second-seeded Lions scored 12 of the final 16 points to deny their Chilliwack opponent’s three-peat bid. The two teams were playing in the championship final of the BC School Sports 1A Boys Basketball Provincial Tournament on Saturday night at Langley Events Centre, with King David squad pulling out a 72-68 win over the two-time defending champion and top-seeded United squad.
“We just talked about keeping our poise and composure and trying to make every moment matter and doing it for our brothers,” said Lions coach David Amram, following the Vancouver school’s first-ever provincial basketball title.
The game was evenly matched, featuring 10 ties and seven lead changes, but the Lions were able to hit on six of their attempts from beyond the arc, with half of those coming off the fingertips of 6-4 centre Joseph Gabay, who finished with 22 points and 15 rebounds. By comparison, while King David had six triples on 26 attempts, Unity Christian managed to sink just a single downtown try, despite launching 20 attempts.
It was vastly different from the Flames’ first three games, where they scored an average of 107 points per game.
King David was also highly ranked for the 2022 tournament but suffered an upset loss in the opening round.
“We had a chip on our shoulder. We knew that we were bounced out of the tournament way too early. We were hoping for a Final Four run but sometimes things just don’t work out the way you have planned. I am so, so proud of my men,” Amram said.
The Lions returned all the players from that team and this time, they were healthy. They were also able to avenge last year’s opening round loss to Aberdeen Hall, defeating the Gryphons in Friday’s semi-final to book a spot in Saturday’s final.
Capturing the championship was an incredible feeling, the coach said, adding none of this would have been possible without a tremendous support team.
“This would not have happened without a lot of help … it could not have happened without a lot of support, and I couldn’t be prouder to be a member of the King David Lions,” the coach said.
While Gabay led the Lions in scoring in the championship final, Ezra Heayie added 18 points and Kristian Galazka and Arel Steen each had 15. Heayie was the Championship Player of the Game.
Jay Smiens led Unity Christian with 21 and Seth Schuurman had 18.
King David’s Jesse Millman was chosen as the Most Valuable Player and Nanaimo Christian’s Calvin Vanderkooi was the Best Defensive Player.
Kyler Assem (Aberdeen Hall), Ezra Heayie (King David), Daxton Vander Kooi (Unity Christian), Arel Steen (King David) and Seth Schuurman (Unity Christian) were chosen First Team All-Stars. The Second Team All-Stars were Ryan Crosina (Cedars Christian), Viv Anderson-Francois (St. John’s), Jason Mvundura (Deer Lake), Jackson Tonsi (Nanaimo Christian) and Jay Smiens (Unity Christian). The Cedars Christian Eagles were named the Most Sportsmanlike Team.
The Nanaimo Christian Trail Blazers defeated the Aberdeen Hall Gryphons 90-71 in the bronze-medal game.