Thunder capture first title in Spectrum hoops history


The Spectrum Thunder made history Saturday at Langley Events Centre.

The second-seeded squad from Victoria beat the No. 4 Tamanawis Wildcats of Surrey 92-72 in the final of the 2024 BC School Sports 4A Boys Basketball Provincial Championships. It is the first senior boys basketball provincial title in Spectrum’s history.

A capacity crowd filled the LEC Arena Bowl for the last contest of the event’s 78th edition.

They witnessed the Thunder’s Tyler Felt record 26 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots en route to winning the tournament’s Most Valuable Player honour.

“I felt we clicked at the right time this year and we pushed each other hard, especially on defence, which won us these last couple of games,” said Felt, who made 12 of his 15 field-goal attempts (80 per cent) Saturday. “Even though I got the MVP, that could have gone to so many guys. It really was a group award. This is all so surreal.”

Teammates Justin Hinrichsen and J Elijah Helman were named to the tournament’s First All-Star Team, and both surpassed the 20-point mark in the final. Hinrichsen had 20 points, 16 rebounds and five assists for the Thunder, while Helman posted 21 points and nine rebounds. Gio De Gracia of the Thunder was selected the Best Defensive Player and the Quinn Keast Foundation Championship Player of the Game. He had eight points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals.

Michael Adarlwah-Nti and Sartaj Bhangu led Tamanawis by scoring 17 points and grabbing six rebounds each. Arjun Hehar contributed 11 points and four steals. Adarlwah-Nti was a First Team All-Star while Bhangu and Hehar earned a place on the second team. The Wildcats also won the School Spirit Award.

Spectrum took an 11-point lead into halftime and were up by 20 early in the fourth quarter before holding off a rally by the Wildcats.

The game was tied at 17-17 in the second quarter when the Thunder went ahead with a 16-4 run. Felt and Hinrichsen poured in five points each in that stretch, which helped put Spectrum in front 36-25 at the half.

The Thunder opened the third quarter with a 10-3 surge to increase their lead to 46-28. The gap was 67-47 when Hinrichsen picked up his fourth foul of the contest with 8:53 to go in the fourth quarter.

The Wildcats turned up their defensive pressure, and Bhangu hit back-to-back three-point shots within 30 seconds. The Tamanawis deficit was down to 67-53 with eight minutes left on the clock. Hinrichsen came back into the game. Seconds later, at the 7-minute mark, Hehar nailed a triple for the Wildcats to get them to within 11 points at 67-56.

However, Spectrum responded with an 18-3 surge to cap off its first senior boys provincial title.

“We fought hard all night,” said Hinrichsen. “It was a tough battle, tough game, but we pushed through and pulled out the win. Tamanawis is a really talented team that plays a fast pace and shoots the ball well. They have a bunch of good players.”

For the Wildcats, Saturday’s result was the program’s fourth top-four championship finish at the highest tier of BC boys basketball since 2014. All have come under the guidance of head coach Matt McKay.

“We had some mental errors in our zone defence in the first half,” he said. “If you had told us we would have held Spectrum to 1 of 13 or 1 of 14 from three in the first half, I would have said we were probably up 10 at halftime instead of down 10. We didn’t switch and bump back, gave them the offensive rebounds, I think they scored on every single one of them. So we got down 13 or 14, and it is tough to play that way for the entire game. I think we had to go to the press defence about five minutes too early but it was kind of our only option at that point.”

Joining Adarlwah-Nti, Helman and Hinrichsen as First Team All-Stars were Nylan Roberts of Yale and Oak Bay’s Thomas Beames. Roberts also claimed the Inspiring Bandit Scholarship.

In addition to Bhangu and Hehar, the Second Team All-Stars were Lordrikk Gutierrez (Burnaby South), Calvin Kuzyk (West Vancouver) and Heath Taylor (Oak Bay).

West Vancouver’s Zeyad Ahmad was chosen as the Braich Foundation Most Inspirational Player.

The Kelowna Owls merited the Most Inspirational Team recognition and the Prince George Polars won the Most Sportsmanlike Team award.

Earlier Saturday, the Oak Bay Bays defeated the West Vancouver Highlanders 85-53 in the third-place game, putting two Victoria teams in the top three.