Most Brentwood students see Spring Break as an opportunity to go home and see family and friends, to hit the reset button before the final term. The Senior Boys Basketball team saw the first few days of this break as an opportunity to prove to the province just how good they were. Leaving on March 7th at cookie break, the squad ventured to Langley to compete at the annual BC High School Basketball Provincial 2A Championships, held at the Langley Events Centre. Having been the #1 ranked team for most of the season, Brentwood entered the tournament as the first seed. The boys knew every opponent would come at them with the hopes of pulling off an upset; we were ready.
Brentwood’s first game was at 8:30am on Wednesday morning. The team arrived to the gym an hour early to wake up their bodies for the battle ahead against the sixteenth-seed Prince Charles Bulldogs. Before the game, Coach Gage emphasized the team’s need to run the court all game, regardless of the early start to the day. Brentwood listened as steals and rebounds turned into fast break layups. In the halfcourt, the team moved the ball well, leading to several open looks from three and around the rim. Brentwood established a large lead over their opponent in the opening quarter and continued to increase it as the game wore on. The final score was 97-39. Bruno C, Whittall ‘18 scored 20 points and was the Player of the Game. Olamide O, Privett ‘18 had 16 points off the bench, including a buzzer beating turnaround jumper to end the third quarter, while Johnny M, Ellis ‘18 had a game-high 11 rebounds.
The following day, Brentwood faced the eighth-seeded H. J. Cambie Crusaders at the much more decent hour of 3:45pm. Once again, the team had great intensity in the first quarter on both ends of the court, as their defense led to easy baskets in transition and a large lead after one period of play. In the second quarter, the team faltered slightly on the defensive end, allowing Cambie to score 20 points. The team also struggled a bit breaking their opponents full court press and seemed rushed on the offensive end. Still, the team went into halftime with a 40-30 lead. During the break, Coach Gage implored his squad to pick things up on defense – especially on the glass – and let their offense stem from that. In the second half, Brentwood did just that. They limited Cambie to 17 points in the half while putting up 50 points themselves, several of those coming in transition. None were bigger than Somto D’s, Rogers ‘18 dunk late in the contest; he rebounded a missed jump shot and powered up for the one-handed slam that had the bench and crowd alike going crazy. The final score of the game was 90-47, with the win securing Brentwood a spot in the Final Four the next day. Captain Aaron S, Rogers ‘17 led the team with 20 points to go along with nine steals, demonstrating his efforts on both sides of the ball, garnering him the Player of the Game award. Nathan P, Ellis ‘18 had 17 points, Olamide O had 16, and Bruno C had 11. The most important stat to the coaches were the rebounding numbers; Brentwood destroyed Cambie on the glass which was the ultimate difference maker.
On Friday, Brentwood was matched up against the fourth-seeded G. W. Graham Grizzlies, a team Brentwood was very familiar with over the course of the season. Due to the late time of the game at 8:45pm, Coach Sullivan arranged for the team to have a shootaround at “a top secret warehouse” to run through Graham’s plays and discuss strategy. Much of this plan focused on slowing down Graham’s star player, Gabe Mannes. As game time drew near, fans of both teams filled the Centre Court, cheering for their respective teams. In the game’s first period, both teams came out strong on the offensive end, with Brentwood leading 15-12 at the end. The first few minutes of the second were back and forth, as Graham and Brentwood kept exchanging shots and leads. After a timeout, Brentwood hunkered down on defense, limiting the Grizzlies’ chances and converting on their own in both the fast break and half court. Heading into halftime, Brentwood had a 50-35 advantage. In the third, Brentwood continued to pour in points, extending their lead to 21. However, no lead is safe, as Graham quickly proved. Brentwood watched as their 21 point lead dwindled down to nine points as the third quarter horn sounded. Graham’s run featured porous defense from Brentwood, allowing their opponents to attack the hoop easily, as well as crash the offensive glass hard. Coach Gage told his team to refocus on defense and get back to what got them the lead in the first place. Brentwood responded, opening the quarter on an 8-0 run, featuring two consecutive threes from Brendan S, Ellis ‘18. On the defensive end, Brentwood made points extremely difficult to come by in the fourth, limiting Graham to just eight points in the final quarter of play. The final score of the game was 85-63, sending Brentwood to the Provincial Finals for only the second time in school history. Brendan S was the Player of the Game, scoring 26 points and shooting 7-11 from three-point range. Brentwood once again crushed their opponent on the glass, grabbing 22 offensive rebounds; Graham managed that many defensive boards. Casper P, Whittall ‘18 led the team on the boards – grabbing them left and right – with 11 (four offensive) while Olamide O had 10 (six offensive), and Cole H, Whittall ‘17 had 6 rebounds.
In the finals, Brentwood was set to face their Island rival, the third-seeded St. Michaels University School Blue Jags. Once more, the team stopped by their “Area 51” practice facility in order to prepare for the final game of the season. While Brentwood had beaten SMUS in their previous meeting 76-37, the Blue Jags had made the Provincial Final for four straight years, winning it all in 2015; anything could happen. In the locker room, Coach Gage stressed that the team had to play their game and leave everything on the floor. Brentwood did not have much time before the game to get accustomed to the new rims and bright lights of the Arena Bowl; before they knew it, introductions were being done and fans were roaring. It was game time. The opening minutes of the game showed both teams struggling offensively, as neither team could get much going. As the first half wore on, SMUS’ experience came out, as they began to knock down shots consistently. Brentwood, meanwhile, had a difficult time finding shots, and when they did, they could not buy a bucket. Some of the poor play could be accounted for due to nerves playing on the big stage, but SMUS was simply outplaying them. Going into the locker room at halftime facing a 31-20 deficit, spirits were low amongst the team. Coach Gage reminded the team that this is what they expected from the Blue Jags looking for revenge. The game was not going to be won in one play, it was going to be a grind. Brentwood took the court once more knowing what they had to do. At first, SMUS continued to dominate, extending their lead to 12 points midway through the third; it appeared they were making every shot they took. However, Nathan P provided a spark off the bench for Brentwood, hitting some difficult shots and running the offense leading to easy baskets and free throws to get Brentwood back into the game. On defense, Brentwood tightened things up, forcing SMUS into difficult shots late into the shot clock. In the final possession of the third, Johnny M stole the ball and head-manned it Bruno C, who avoided a flying SMUS defender. Bruno pitched the ball to Will N, Ellis ‘18 who drained the corner three-pointer to end the quarter. Suddenly, a 12 point deficit became a two point game. The Brentwood bench and fans alike were once again filled with energy.
Brentwood continued their strong defensive play in the final quarter, shutting down the opposing offense. Off of a Bruno C floater, Brentwood took a 41-40 edge, the team’s first lead since it was 4-3 in the first quarter. The game became a grind midway through the fourth, as neither team could get much to fall either way. Fortunately for Brentwood, Brendan S came up big time. He scored eight consecutive Brentwood points, including a shot-clock beating fallaway three-pointer from 30 feet that had everyone in the arena going crazy. Brendan’s big shot gave Brentwood a 51-42 lead with just over a minute left to play. SMUS eventually had to play the foul game; some free throws and clutch offensive boards from Johnny M saw Brentwood close out the game as 2A Provincial Champions. The final score was 54-44. Brentwood fans stormed the court to join the team celebrations. Brendan S was the Player of the Game, leading the team with 19 points and clutch shots. Nathan P had 13 points off the bench, giving Brentwood key offense to get back into the game.
Following the game, there were several awards to be handed out. Brendan S was voted a First Team All-Star for his stellar play. Aaron S was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player, a testament to his performance on that side of the ball, in addition to his offensive capabilities. Bruno C was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player for his huge contributions to the team. From scoring to defending to rebounding, Bruno did it all for Brentwood. Coach Gage was recognized as the Champion Coach as well. Of course, Brentwood was presented with their gold medals, the Provincial Championship Trophy, and a Provincial Championship Banner.
This was a picture perfect ending to a near perfect season. There could not have been a better send off the for three seniors on the team. Aaron S, Cole H, and Ender M, Whittall ‘17 were all instrumental pieces of this year’s team and their contributions and leadership will truly be missed next year. On the other hand, with 9 players on the roster returning next year, the future is as bright as ever for Brentwood Basketball.
Thus ends another basketball season at Brentwood College School. Can’t wait for next year. There are a plethora of people to be thanked for the team’s success. First, Coaches Gage and Sullivan for leading this team all season with their exquisite instruction. Second, thank you to everyone who attended games all season long. Whether you were a family member, friend, Brentwood staff or alumni, your presence in the stands was huge and the team greatly appreciates it. Also, a massive thank you to the transportation team (especially Richard) for taking the team to compete all around the province. Most importantly, the Senior Basketball Team deserves a tremendous amount of credit. All season, they have impressed and improved, working extremely hard in both practice and games, and making history. Congratulations on a championship well earned and deserved. Can’t wait for next season!
Olamide O, Privett ‘18