FOR King George Dragons head coach Darko Kulic, he has never been able to listen to Queen’s hit song, We are the Champions, played in every sporting venue to mark a championship for the winning team.
“For the last 16 years, I have hated hearing ‘We are the champions, no time for losers,’” he admitted. “Anywhere I am, I turn it off.”
His thoughts on the song may have changed on Saturday afternoon.
With his No. 2 ranked Dragons facing No. 1 seed Brentwood College in the championship final of the BC School Sports 2A Boys Basketball Provincial Tournament at Langley Events Centre, King George used a dominating defence which held their opponent to a mere 10 points in the opening 20 minutes. By the time the final buzzer sounded, the scoreboard read ‘King George 63 Brentwood College 33’ and the Dragons had secured the first provincial basketball title in the history of the Vancouver school.
Kulic said he was awake until 7am on Saturday, poring over game film of the upcoming opponent. They also made an adjustment, the coach said, switching from the usual 2-3 zone defence to start, instead opting for man-to-man defence, before reverting back to their typical zone.
And it obviously worked as Brentwood College came out cold, connecting on just 3 of 26 field goal attempts in the first half as the Dragons used their length to alter shots and get in passing lanes.
King George would score just 28 points in the first half themselves, but even that was nearly enough as Brentwood College could not muster much of a sustained attack, while the Dragons’ 6-5 Grade 10 star Dionycius Bakare was unstoppable, scoring 41 points on his own. He also had eight rebounds and was named both the Championship Player of the Game and the Most Valuable Player.
Dylan Gage led Brentwood College with 14 points.
The Dragons finished the season an impressive 34-1, with their lone loss coming back in December by a single point to North Delta.
“It was the best thing to ever happen to us. We came in after that game really upset at ourselves. We watched what we did and we never let it happen again,” the coach explained of the early-season setback. “I was so sad that we lost, she gave me a little rock and I have had it in my pocket every game since and we won 30 straight (with) that lucky rock my daughter gave me.”
It was the Dragons third time in the championship final, as they previously lost in 2018 (to Brentwood College) and in 2020 (to Charles Hays). Kulic was at the helm for both of those Dragons teams and said this victory – which features several younger siblings of his former players – has helped break a lot of curses for the program.
“I can’t put into words what these boys meant to me. A lot of these boys, I coached their brothers .. this wasn’t for us, this was for everybody,” he said.
While Bakare was the MVP, his teammate Darko Karac, Brentwood College’s Gage and Jayden Lust, Jonny Durkan (John Barsby) and Declan Cutler (St. Thomas Aquinas) were named First Team All-Stars.
The Second Team All-Stars were Cohen Cadieux (John Barsby), Jeremy McInnis (Westsyde), Nathan Chiang (Pacific Academy), Jaden Mesfin (Pacific Academy) and Jose Zaluaga (King George). Westsyde’s Caleb Gremaud was chosen the Best Defensive Player and the Archbishop Carney Stars were selected the Most Sportsmanlike Team.
And in the bronze-medal game, the Westsyde Whundas won 100-89 over the John Barsby Bulldogs in double overtime.