For three quarters, the Walnut Grove Gators and the Pitt Meadows Marauders went blow-for-blow in the gold medal game of the Fraser Valley senior boys’ AAA basketball championships.
But in the fourth quarter, the Marauders seized control, building a double digits lead they would not relinquish, winning 75-57.
The game has been relatively close throughout, with Pitt Meadows leading by five after one quarter, the Gators up by two at the half, and the Marauders ahead by a basket after three quarters.
“First of all, you have to give credit to Pitt Meadows,” said Gators coach George Bergen, following the loss on Saturday night at the Langley Events Centre.
“They defended us really well. We wanted to get out and run — that is the nature of our beast — and they wouldn’t allow us to run like we have been doing.”
A big difference in the game was the Marauders’ mastery of the boards.
“First of all, you have to get a rebound to run and we didn’t rebound the ball well enough,” Bergen said.
“That slows down the run. And they (Pitt Meadows) were good transition defending.”
The Marauders and the Gators were the top two seeds in the 32-team Fraser Valley championships.
Both were already guaranteed a spot at next week’s B.C. AAA provincial championships as the top seven from the Valley would be moving on.
“At the start of the season, I thought we could be in the final four,” Bergen said.
“So that was one goal, and making it to the final game would have been another.”
Despite losing the final, Bergen said he is “thrilled the guys made it this far.”
“I think it is a really good team effort and it was our goal, and we achieved it,” he said.
The players — while happy to be moving on to provincials — were still upset they came second — which matches the senior boys’ program’s best-ever finish.
“We always want to go for first,” said Ethan McKean.
“This is disappointing. Nobody is happy with the loss.”
This was the second time the two teams met, and last time, Pitt Meadows won by six.
McKean said the team has to get used to the big-game atmosphere.
“This was good experience for us, and we will learn from it,” he said.
“I am sure we will come out stronger at provincials.”
Walnut Grove opens the provincial championships next week (March 13) at 8:30 a.m. against the winner of Mount Douglas and Caledonia.
In Friday’s semifinals, Walnut Grove defeated the Terry Fox Ravens 82-64 while Pitt Meadows narrowly defeated the Tamanawis Wildcats 63-60.
W.J. Mouat won the fifth-place game, 83-74 over White Rock Christian, while Yale grabbed the final berth with a 60-53 win over the North Delta Huskies.