In 1945, the Connaught Invitational featuring Trapp Tech, Nanaimo, Chilliwack and Duke of Connaught was held at the New Westminster Y.M.C.A. The following year, eight of the best high school basketball teams in British Columbia were invited and thus the B.C.boys’ tournament was born. In this inaugural, Vancouver College Fighting Irish captured their first Provincial Championship by defeating Kamloops 34-32, Duke of Connaught 30-28 and King George 25-21. They repeated as winners in 1949,1957,1960 and 1967.
In 1947, Duke of Connaught, coached by Ken Wright, won the first of its four B.C. Championships as they defeated arch rival Trapp Tech 38-36 in the final.
In 1948, the Tournament expanded to 16 teams and Magee of Vancouver won the coveted crown by defeating Duke of Connaught 49-41 in the title game. In 1950, the Tournament moved to the New Westminster Junior High School and, under the auspices of the B.C. Inter-High School Boys’ Basketball Association, Duke of Connaught won the first of three successive titles (1950-51-52), a record that still stands.
In 1951, the Tournament was held in the spacious U.B.C. Memorial gym where the Dukes took home the Sparling Trophy for the third consecutive year. In 1953, Burnaby South brought the reign of Duke of Connaught to an end as Bob Ramsay and Don Steen led the Rebels to a 53-51 victory over the defending champions.The Dukes had made the finals six of the last seven years, a record that may never be surpassed.
Led by John Kootnekoff and Fred Kabatoff, Mission brought the Fraser Valley its first provincial crown in 1954 as they edged Gladstone 40-39 in the title game. In 1955, Coach Rudy Wiley won his first of two successive championships as Trapp Tech, in every Tournament since 1946, defeated Alberni 46-37 to capture the Sparling Trophy. It was a fitting climax to a school with such a rich basketball tradition.
In 1956, Duke of Connaught and Trapp Tech amalgamated as Lester Pearson and produced one of the strongest tournament teams of all time. The Mikes had four first all-stars, George Grozier, Don Krego, Ken Winslade and Dave McDonald and provided New Westminster with its 6th championship in 11 years as they defeated Magee for the B.C. title.
1956 was the beginning of a number of outstanding teams. In 1957, a great group of athletes from Vancouver College (Bob Lasko, Leo Petty, John Oster, Paul Seale) walked away with the Provincial Title, followed in 1958 by a tall and talented squad from Lord Byng featuring Dave Way, Keith Hartley, Ed Gushue and Dave Osborne. Yet another outstanding team followed in 1959 as, after many years of trying, George Andrews and his Victoria Totems won their first B.C. Title, the start of many to come to Vancouver Island in the 1960’s. Vic High was led by Dave Black, Barry Sadler, Dave Nelson and Darrell Lorimer.
After Vancouver College won the Sparling Trophy in 1960 and Magee in 1961, outside Lower Mainland domination took over. In 1962, unheralded Victoria won its second Provincial Title by edging Vancouver College 38-34 in the championship match. After three strong attempts, MEl. won a Provincial Crown in 1963 behind the outstanding play of Ed Suderman, Jim Falk and George Heidebrecht, as they defeated Alberni 58-40 in the championship game.
The 1964 Tournament was a classic. A cinderella team from Prince Rupert won it all by crushing Kamloops 66-51, slipping past Magee 62-61, upsetting defending champion MEl. 66-64 in overtime in a game that most observers feel was the most exciting in tournament history and won the championship with a 43-41 victory over Abbotsford.
1965 saw the beginning of the Vancouver Island dynasty. Gary Taylor’s Oak Bay teams were finalists in 1965, 66,68, and 69. The Bays won the Provincial Title in 1965 and 1968 and their rivals, the Victoria Totems, won the championship in 1966 and 1969. The Bays produced four most valuable players in those five years: Bob Burrows, Brian Mckenzie, Dave Morgan and Tom Holmes and were clearly the dominant team during the late 1960’s. In 1967, Vancouver College proved to be the spoilers of complete Vancouver Island domination as they won a record fifth Provincial Championship defeating David Thompson 56-41 in the first all-Lower Mainland championship final since 1958.
1968 ushered in a new era as games were played at the new 15,000 seat Pacific Coliseum. The Championship final was played in this new structure for the first time.
While the 1960’s belonged to Vancouver Island, the early 1970’s saw the dominance of the Fraser Valley come to the fore. Jake Braun, in 1970, closed out his fine coaching career at MEl. by defeating arch rival Abbotsford 49-47 in one of the most thrilling tournament final games. Three out of the four teams in the semi-finals that year were from the Fraser Valley including a new force on the horizon, North Delta, who were led by most valuable player Dave Coutu.
In 1971, all games were played at the Pacific Coliseum and once again three Valley teams reached the final four. In probably the two most exciting semi-final games played back to back in tournament history, North Delta edged Abbotsford 50-49 and Vancouver College squeezed by Centennial 45-42 to set the stage for the final. The well drilled Huskies were not to be denied as they stopped the Fighting Irish from Vancouver College 43-38 for their first Provincial Championship.
In 1972, the Huskies returned to defend their top position in prep basketball but ran into 611” Lars Hansen of Centennial in the final game. Hansen completely dominated the tournament as he scored 39 points in both the semi-final and championship games. He ruined North Delta’s hope of two successive championships as the Centaurs won easily 60-40.
Oak Bay returned to prominence by becoming the first team in 23 years to win two consecutive championships with victories in 1973 and 1974 under coach Don Horwood. In 1973, the Bays defeated North Surrey 52- I 31 and edged Kamloops 53-50 in the 1974 championship game.
In 1975, for the third time in five years, the North Delta Huskies reached the finals and this year won their second Provincial Crown with a 72-57 victory over Richmond Colts. The fine play of Mike Kenis in the semi-final and championship games proved to be the difference.
Oak Bay reached the finals again in 1976, 1977 and 1978, making it five championship games in six years. Heavily favoured North Surrey beat the Bays 52-48 to win the 1976 championship but, led by Craig Higgins and Ken Kirzinger, Oak Bay rebounded to overwhelm Princess Margaret 75-64 in the 1977 final. The Oak Bay era ended in 1978 as rival Nanaimo Islanders, led by John, Greg, and Gerald Kazanowski, defeated the Bays 71-62 to win the Sparling Trophy.
Oak Bay had played in the championship game nine times in the last thirteen years, winning five championships.
For the first time in twelve years, two Lower Mainland Zone teams met in the 1979 B.C. final. Burnaby South Rebels, relying on a strong defense, won their second Sparling Trophy with a 65-47 win over arch rival Richmond Colts.
1980 provided the championship with a well balanced squad from Prince George, Duchess Park. They proved their number one ranking as they smashed defending champion Nanaimo 57-40 to take home the Sparling Trophy.
North Surrey Spartans met Cowichan Thunderbirds in the 1981 final and, led by John Randa, overcame Thunderbirds 6’11 Greg Walters and a nine point deficit in the last nine minutes to win their second Sparling Trophy with a 69-63 victory.
An emotion-packed 1982 Championship game featured the first ever all Howe Sound final between West Vancouver Highlanders and Argyle Pipers. In his final game as coach of West Vancouver, Brian Upson, with co-coach Tom Rippon, guided their squad to a thrilling 49-48 upset victory over the top-ranked Pipers as MVP Paul Kitchener sank two foul shots with thirteen seconds remaining to give the Highlanders their first championship. For coach Upson, it was the culmination of twenty-two years of coaching West Vancouver as he retired with a Provincial Championship.
After eighteen Tournament appearances, the dream finally came through for the Abbotsford Panthers as they won the 1983 Provincial Championship with a convincing 68-54 victory over the North Surrey Spartans. Rated number one all season, the strong and quick Panthers destroyed the opposition by 38, 31,16, and 14 point margins and were truly the best in B.C.
Bill Disbrow’s Richmond Colts were the dominant team in the 1980’s as they played in four championship games in five years. In the 1984 final game the Colts were upset by arch rival Steveston Packers 84-59 behind a record 45 points from Gareth Davies. After this loss, the colts went on to win three championships in the next four years beginning with a 1985 defeat of Centennial Centaurs 74-61 behind Steve Taylor and Ray Doyle.
In 1986 Maple Ridge Ramblers, making their first Tournament appearance since 1950, held off the J.D. Jackson led Vernon Panthers 77-71. Led by John Carlson, Glen Cote and Todd Osborne, the Ramblers won the newly established Ken Wright Championship Trophy.
Led by the outstanding trio of Joey deWit, Brian Tait and Ron Putzi, the Richmond Colts became only the third team to win consecutive championships as they edged the MEl. Eagles 75-70 in the 1987 title game and overwhelmed the Seaquam Seahawks 99-80 in the 1988 Tournament final.
Richmond was thwarted in their attempt for a third consecutive title in 1989 by the Pitt Meadows Marauders as the Fraser Valley school upset the Colts 92-77 behind the play of Derek Welsh, Dan Beebe and Al Tuchscherer. Pitt Meadows went on to defeat crosstown rival Maple Ridge 58-57 in the thrilling championship game. Coach Rich Goulet became the first coach to win a “AAA” and “AA’ title.
Reviving memories of their great teams from the 1970’s, the North Delta Huskies won their third Provincial crown in 1990 as Chad Johnston and Mitch Berger led the Huskies to a 75-66 win over Richmond. For Richmond this was their fifth championship game played in the last seven years.
1991 was another championship year for the Richmond Colts as they defeated Burnaby Central 94-78 for their fourth championship in the past seven years.
Steve Nash led the S.M.U. Blue Devils in 1992 to a 76-48 victory over Pitt Meadows. It was S.M.U.’s first B.C. Championship.
In 1994 the Terry Fox Ravens were looking to win back to back championships. After winning their first two games quite easily the Ravens came up against the Carihi Tyees who were led by Tournament Most Valuable Player, Eric Hinrichsen. Don Van Os’s Terry Fox team squeezed out a 79-75 victory in a very entertaining final four matchup. The final featured the top two teams in the province, Terry Fox and Richmond. Before a sell-out-house at the Agrodome the Ravens captured their second title by posting a 73-66 victory over the Colts.
1995 was the year of the upsets. Terry Fox Ravens and Richmond Colts were the favourites. Terry Fox lost toVancouver Technical but bounced back to take sixth place.Richmond lost their second game to the eventual champions,Ladysmith, and then lost again to S.M.U. in the third round.Ladysmith was the Cinderella team, who showed class andthe killer instinct in beating North Delta, Richmond, WestVancouver, and finally MEl.
In 1996 we saw history made with a Vancouver public school winning its first Championship in 38 years. Kitsilano Blue Demons (Lower Mainland No.2), coached by Randy Coutts, had a terrific tournament. Richmond, Salmon Arm and Terry Fox were probably the three favoured teams entering the tournament. It was, however, the Kitsilano team led by 68’ Sandy Bisaro and multipurpose Etienne Orr-Ewing that were able to out rebound and out score their opponents and win the ‘96 Championship.Third Place finishing Salmon Arm’s Jordie McTavish earned MVP honor.
1997 was a year of parity amongst the tournaments top nine teams. Terry Fox, Maple Ridge, MEl, Centennial, Richmond, Kitsilano, McNair, Vancouver College and Alberni all had a shot to win the championship. After many close games, two going into overtime, it was the defending champs Kitsilano Blue Demons who battled a snow storm to get to GM Place and win their second title in as many years. Sandy Bisaro (MVP), Etienne Orr-Ewing, and Keith Bustard lead the Randy Coutts coached team to victory.
Could the Kitsilano Blue Demons complete the “threepeat”? NO. They lost in their first round to Clarence Fulton by one point. There seemed to be four dominate teams in 1998, the Carson Graham Eagles, the Vancouver College Fighting Irish, the Centennial Centaurs and the Richmond Colts. Carson Graham would meet Vancouver College in the semi finals and lose a close, hard fought game. Centennial lost to Vancouver College in the quarter finals in another close game. Richmond had a tough first round opponent, Dover Bay, but the Colts persevered and won by 9 points. Richmond breezed through the next rounds and met their Lower Mainland finals opponents the Fighting Irish of Vancouver College in the Saturday classic. It was a good game and the outcome was determined by foul shots. Richmond held their number one ranking by defeating the Irish 76 to 66. This was their fifth championship since 1985.
The 1999 tournament was filled with exciting games. Centennial Centaurs defeated Mount Baker, Clarence Fulton, Lord Byng and then upset Richmond who previously beat M.E.I. and Brookswood. Centennial entered the finals a tired team after playing 4 games in four nights. White Rock Christian a very small but formidable school that prides itself in excellence defeated Hugh McRoberts from Richmond, Highland and S.M.U. from Vancouver Island and finally Centennial 72-62 in the Championship game to become the 1999 Champions.
The year 2000 AAA Boys basketball tournament ended the 20th century of high school basketball with some of the most exciting basketball the Agrodome has ever seen. The championship game was a rematch of the Fraser Valley Championships. Terry Fox defeated Penticton, Seaquam, and Carson Graham to gain a berth in the finals. Pitt Meadows beat St.George’s, Oak Bay and Walnut Grove to become the other finalist. Pitt Meadow’s Air Force overcame the “fouling out” of their star centre with 4:30 remaining in the game and down by 10 points to win 74-68 in overtime.
In 2001 White Rock destroyed New Westminster and Lord Byng and handed Stelly’s a 16 point defeat. Kitsilano beat W J Mouat, had a tough time putting away Oak Bay but easily handled MEl to gain a berth in the finals. Kitsilano came out flying in the final game lead by Chris Porteous but Kyle Wilson pulled his team back in the second quarter. The Demons were too tough for the Warriors and won the game 94-80.Kyle Wilson was named tournament MVP.
Kitsilano had little trouble dumping LV Rogers but Enver Creek and White Rock Christian gave the Blue Demons all they could handle. Kits won both games by 5 point margins. Claremont had a tough game against VC but easily handled Yale and Terry Fox. Kitsilano dominated Claremont in the final, 81-52, to repeat as the 2002 Champions.
In 2003 White Rock Christian was the talk of the town. They had the number one ranking most of the season. They beat St George’s and SMU to advance to the semi finals against Sean Denison and the LV Rogers Bombers. Denison however got into foul trouble and sat on the bench most of the game. WRC won the game then easily defeated Seaquam to claim their second Championship.
Sinclair Brown and Sean Burke lead the Argyle Pipers to easy victories over New Westminster, McMath and White Rock Christian. Bryson Kool and Matt Joudain lead Pitt Meadows to victories over Wellington,St George’s and MEl to advance to the finals over Argyle. This had all the makings of a great match up. However Argyle was too strong and won their first Provincial AAA championship in 2004
The two North Shore teams, Argyle and Handsworth were favored to meet in the 2005 Championship game but Argyle, riddled with injury, lost two straight and Handsworth were defeated by White Rock Christian in the semi final game. Wellington was the story of the tournament, upsetting Argyle, beating Centennial and McMath to gain a berth into the finals against White Rock Christian. White Rock Christian played tough defense and Wellington ran out of gas as they won the championship game 47-40.
Handsworth (North Vancouver) after defeating Magee, Pinetree and St George’s met Kitsilano (Vancouver) in the championship game after Kitsilano defeated Centennial, Maple Ridge and Brookswood. Handsworth got off to a great start and a 10 point lead which they would not relinquish. Four Handsworth starters plus one substitute had double digit scoring. Handsworth won their first Provincial title 82-65, in 2006.
In 2007 there were again upsets, but they were in the Zone tournaments. Power house Handsworth were upset by West Vancouver on the North Shore and RC Palmer claimed the Lower Mainland title. Both were upset in the first round in the Provincial championships. Dover Bay from Nanaimo showed strength and poise in defeating Walnut Grove, North Delta, Vancouver College and finally Kitsilano by one point to win their first Provincial Title.