Practice paid off for the North Langley U13 Selects basketball team.
All season, the boys’ basketball team’s coaches stressed the importance of foul shooting.
And in the gold medal game at the Basketball BC Provincial Club Championships over the weekend in West Vancouver, it was some clutch shooting from the charity stripe which carried the team to the title.
“Every practice we make sure we allot a certain amount of time to foul shooting,” explained Derek Baker, one of the team’s three coaches.
“We talk about the importance of it and we try to do it in pressure situations.”
In Sunday’s championship final, the team was matched up against the South Burnaby Metro Club in the B division final. Teams are grouped according to the size of their association and there were four different tiers at the club championships.
This was the third time the teams had played this season with South Burnaby winning the first two times by double digits both times.
“When we first played them, they ran the fast break very effectively,” explained Baker.
And it was more of the same in the final as South Burnaby was able to run the floor and build an eight-point lead at the half.
“During half time, we talked about what we have focused on all year, our theme: hard work pays off,” Baker said. “The boys really stepped it up in the second half and were able to swing the momentum.”
Down the stretch, South Burnaby was in foul trouble and North Langley took advantage, connecting on 70 per cent of their free throws to tie the game at 45. And then with two seconds to play, North Langley was again sent to the free throw line, hitting one of two shots for the 46-45 score.
The win wrapped up a perfect weekend for North Langley, which cruised past Nanaimo 62-23 and Delbrook 60-40 in their first two games, automatically advancing to the semifinals. They again beat Delbrook in that game to earn a spot in the championship final.
The fact North Langley did so well at the championships should come as little surprise.
The team is made up of players from the association’s U12 and U13 squads — the Lakers and Raptors — which each won their respective divisions in the Basketball BC Metro League earlier this spring.
“We wanted to put a good competitive team forward and see what we could do,” Baker said, adding it was a great group of kids who were a pleasure to coach. “They worked so hard.”
The team is made up of Nathan Wright, Noah Cook, Conner Platz, Brady Sandes, Parker Thorpe, Tyson Baker, Callum Neily, Riley Ward, Jared Aukema, Camron Lockyer, Kevin Kao and Tyler George.
The coaches are Greg Cook, Derek Baker and Tim George.