A championship drought that spanned more than two decades is over.
The Semiahmoo Totems won the RCMP Basketball Classic for the first time since 1995 Saturday night, defeating the Panorama Ridge Thunder 66-63 in the championship game of the all-Surrey Senior boys high school tournament, played before a crowd of 400 at Enver Creek Secondary.
“I’m constantly reminding the boys where they sit in terms of our success as a program,” said Totems head coach Ed Lefurgy. “One of the things we talk about it we have to try to be the best group in our neighborhood.”
Semiahmoo can now lay claim to being the best in Surrey, but they had to survive a Panorama rally in the fourth quarter to do it.
The Totems used an 11-0 run in the first quarter to get out to an early 20-9 advantage, and their lead hovered between seven and 12 points for much of the night.
Trailing 55-44 at three-quarter time, the Thunder chipped away at the deficit, and twice got to within three points late in the game. But several attempts at a game-tying score fell short.
“Hats off to Panorama Ridge, they are a fantastic team, a very hard working, competitive group,” said Lefurgy. “I think they just turned it up and they started knocking down shots. And when they knock down shots, they are very dangerous.”
But a determined effort fell just short as the Thunder couldn’t convert chances late in the final two minutes.
“We were just unlucky. We’re usually a good three-point shooting team, but we went stale,” said Thunder coach Raman Bedi. “They battled the entire game, there was no quit in the entire tournament.
“They battled and battled, never let down. I give it to the boys, I’m proud of them.”
A second consecutive second place finish at the all-Surrey tournament will give the Thunder motivation for the rest of the reason, said Bedi.
“When it really matters, we’re going to be playing our best basketball, whether it’s February or March,” he said.
Tournament MVP Brian Wallack paced the Totems with a 26-point game. Vlad Mihaila added another 19 points, and earned a place as a first-team all-star.
For the Thunder, Harsimran Bhullar with 19 points, Raphael Alcoreta with 15, and Gurman Bhangu and Gurshael Jessel with 13 each led the way. Bhullar and Bhangu were named to the first all-star team, while Alcoreta was a second-team selection.
Kyle Uppal of the Tamanawis Wildcats and Brandon Tabing of the Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers also made the first all-star team.
The Wildcats defeated the Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers 92-83 to place third. Akash Dhaliwal of Tamanawis was a second-team all-star.
Lord Tweesdsmuir placed fifth.
Other second-team all-stars were Dylan Kinley of the Panthers, Sumreet Singh of the Fraser Heights Firehawks and Justin Sanghe of the Southridge Storm.
Fraser Heights placed fourth in the tournament, finishing with a 77-72 victory Saturday afternoon over Southridge.