The Windsor Dukes won the Howe Sound senior boys AAA basketball title Wednesday despite the loss of their biggest weapon.
Literally biggest, as in six-foot-eight Grade 12 centre Brandon Meyers, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder. Meyers rolled an ankle in a blowout win over Sutherland on Monday, forcing him to the bench for Wednesday’s final played at West Vancouver secondary against those same Sabres. With Meyers sidelined the rematch was a much closer affair.
Windsor shot out to a 15-4 lead by the end of the first quarter but Sutherland pushed back in the second, closing the gap to 26-20 at the half. By the end of the third the Sabres had whittled the lead down to one, trailing 45-44. That, however, was as close as they’d get as Windsor Grade 11 Michael Holowaty opened the fourth quarter with a three pointer followed by teammate Thomas Bush going to work, throwing in a sweet reverse layup before dropping in a tidy bank shot. Holowaty topped off the run by grabbing an offensive rebound and putting it home to push the lead back to 10 points.
The game seemed sealed until Sutherland Grade 12 point guard Spencer Pow closed the gap again with a frantic final push, racing to the hoop for a layup before dropping a three and scoring a putback to make it 58-55. That was the final score, however, as the comeback fell short.
“We knew we were going to be in a battle with Sutherland the whole way,” said Windsor head coach Bruce Meyers, who is also Brandon’s father. “I thought we had great control and then, as expected, Sutherland just brought it back and battled.”
The Sabres nearly caught the Dukes on several occasions but could never get over the hump as Windsor completed a wire-to-wire win.
“Down the stretch it was just control the board, control the defensive end of the floor,” said Meyers. “It was just one three away from opening up, but the boys held and made some key takes to the hoop to put it away for us.”
Meyers tipped his hat to Pow who nearly pulled off the upset despite playing through a leg injury.
“He’s a very tough character,” he said. “He just never stopped. Total heart and soul.”
For Windsor it was Bush who stepped into the centre spot for the injured Brandon Meyers and filled in admirably, earning tournament MVP honours after scoring 13 in the final.
“He did a fanatastic job,” said Bruce. “He keeps bringing it. He’s in Grade 11 but he’s super long. If he doesn’t get the first one, he gets the second one. If he doesn’t get the second one, he gets the third one in.”
Halowaty led the team with 14 in the final on 6/10 shooting from the field. He also guarded Sutherland star Jacob Chalifoux, the regular season player of the year who averaged 22 points and 12 rebounds per game during league play. Halowaty, named a tournament all-star, helped keep Chalifoux in check throughout the final.
“I think Michael did a great job on him,” said Bruce, adding that the offence was there too. “Michael’s got a really nice outside shot. He’s a big kid. . . . He can go to the hole.”
Windsor’s other tournament all-star nod went to Bentley Heathcote who led the team with 13 rebounds in the final.
“Bentley Heathcote is just a workhorse, powers on the boards, plays tough defence,” said Bruce. The coach also lauded three of his senior leaders, guards Luca Puri and Jack Armstrong and forward Erik Kiudorf.
The win earned Windsor a trip to the provincial championships scheduled for March 11-14 at the Langley Events Centre. Bruce is hoping Brandon will be ready to go by then.
“We’ll see. He’s got a pretty bad sprain. But he was up walking, he wanted to dress tonight. . . . I would expect he’ll be ready for provincials.”
Brandon is a difference maker when he’s on the floor, said Bruce.
“He’s really our No. 1 centre and leader on the team,” he said. “He has a good outside shot and can take it to the hoop. He’s a well-rounded player.”
Bruce said he was very pleased with what he saw from his Dukes in the Howe Sound tournament — with and without Brandon — and is hoping the strong play carries over to provincials.
“Our whole thing was to get our mojo back and our tempo of our game back, because we knew we needed that, in particular against Sutherland,” he said. “(Provincials) will be an uphill battle, but we give a lot of teams a lot of trouble because of our size. In the last three games our play has improved significantly. Who knows? If we keep our level of enthusiasm up, we can compete with anybody in that tournament.”
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Awards were handed out after the final with Bush taking home the Quinn Keast No Regrets player of the final game award and Brandon Meyers earning the Quinn Keast scholarship. Carson Graham’s Ben DeCicco joined Pow, Chalifoux, Holowaty and Heathcote on the tournament all-star team along with MVP Bush.
Regular season first-team all-star honours went to Carson’s DeCicco and Josh Servillon, Windsor’s Meyers and Holowaty, and Sutherland’s Chalifoux, who also earned player of the year status. Regular season second-team all-star nods went to Windsor’s Heathcote, Pow and Wiebe from Sutherland, Rockridge’s Nathan Yuzpe and Carson’s Mike Worthen.