Exauce Buleli drives in for two points in the team’s strong win over Caledonia to snag a shot against eventual winner Charles Hays. (Tom Best photo)

Smithers Secondary settles for silver

Exauce Buleli named basketball tournament all star

Smithers Secondary Gryphons had a lesson in staying on top of their game last weekend as they went down to Charles Hays of Prince Rupert 74-42 in the deciding game of the regional finals of the junior boys basketball finals.

Earlier in the tournament, they had held a halftime lead against heavily favored Hays.

“At halftime in that first game, we were ahead so we proved that we could play with them,” said coach Matthew Monkman. “But then we had a lull.

When you give them a lull, they are so skilled that they took advantage and they got a lead that they did not relinquish.”

Overall, Monkman was pleased with the play of his charges.

“The boys competed well, worked hard. Their execution was not as clean as it could have been and when playing against a team such as Prince Rupert who play basketball from the time they are very young, if you do not execute effectively, they will break it down and make you pay,” he said.

Coach Monkman felt his team played well at times but there were times when they played much better. He was encouraged by the overall play of the team and is looking forward to the future of the group.

“This is one of the best junior teams we’ve had in a long time,” he said.

Against Caledonia, the Gryphons were tied at the half but blew past that team by a score of 63-42.

One player on the team was named to the all-star team for the tournament. Exauce Buleli was pleased with the play of the Gryphons.

“We played a good game this weekend. We will play again next season and I played good defense, rebounding the ball,” he said.

Like many in the team, he plays more than one sport.

“I like to play soccer. I’m a striker. I’m looking forward to soccer season,” he said.

According to Monkman, many on the team will be preparing for the upcoming track and field season, as well as playing casual basketball during school break periods.

sports@interior-news.com

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Exauce Buleli was Smithers Gryphons’ top performer at the regional junior boys basketball championships last weekend. He was named to the all-star squad for the competition while leading the team to a strong second place. (Tom Best photo)

Liam Sandberg showed his strong jumping ability with this long lay up against Caledonia. (Tom Best photo)

All-star Exauce Buleli was a force in close to the hoop for rebounds and tip ins. (Tom Best photo)

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