Oak Bay Bays player Lars Bornemann chases down a loose ball from Claremont Spartans player Alex Jordache during the AAA Island boys basketball final at Mount Douglas secondary on Saturday night (March 2). The Spartans won 61-52.

Claremont win Island boys basketball championship

Claremont Spartans top Oak Bay Bays in AAA Island final. Bays in challenge game vs. Belmont for provincial spot, Tuesday

The Claremont Spartans are Island champs, having beaten the Oak Bay Bays for the second time in as many Saturdays to win the AAA boys Island basketball championship, 61-52.

Spartans guard Mason Loewen was named MVP of the tournament, which was hosted by Mount Douglas secondary. Claremont’s Alex Jordache and Oak Bay’s Mat Hampton were their teams’ respective player of the game for the final.

Loewen led the Spartans with 15 points in the final, while Hampton scored 23 and Liam Horne 20 for Oak Bay. Only three players did all the scoring for the Bays, with Jake Miller getting the other eight points. Eight players scored for the Spartans.

“Every time (we play Oak Bay) it’s a battle,” said Spartans coach Davey Sundher. “We said, ‘the team that wins the defensive rebound battle probably wins the game,’ and we did. We knew the game would depend on timely rebounds.”

The game was tied going into the second quarter when Yvan Atemgova of the Spartans stole the ball from Bays guard Liam Horne and ran it in for a layup.

That sparked a 20-6 run by the Spartans, which ended the first half ahead 35-21.

It was Atemgova’s only basket of the game but his superb defence, combined with that from Jordache (10 points), stymied the Bays’ attack.

“It’s such a great feeling to do it with these guys,” Jordache said. “The job’s not done, we want provincials, but it’s nice to enjoy the moment.”

Jordache, like his Oak Bay counterpart Horne, endured nothing short of physical harassment, but the hard fouls couldn’t keep either from their game.

“I try to keep my emotions under control, maybe sometimes it shows,” Jordache said. “Oak Bay played hard and I respect them. They’re a good team.”

In the last week Jordache was been named to the city all-star team and to the weekend’s Island second all-star team. He was a raw player with little basketball experience when he showed up in Grade 9, said Sundher.

“Jordache can score, and he tuned it up defensively (in the final). And Loewen, where do I start? He leads this team by example. He’s in the gym every day, hours and hours, he loves the game, and showed it out here (in the final),” Sundher said.

Claremont took one of the Island’s two provincial berths for this week’s AAA boys provincials. Because the Bays hadn’t faced the third-place Belmont Bulldogs, the Bulldogs have the right to challenge the Bays for the second spot at provincials.

That game is Tuesday (March 5) at Oak Bay High, 7:30 p.m. Check vicnews.com/sports for results.

The 68th annual B.C. Boys AAA High School Championships are March 12 to 16 at the Langley Events Centre. The Spartans stand to win a top-five seed, possibly No. 6, and are looking “to do as much damage as possible,” with Grade 11s Jordache, Luke Collumbin and Zac Christianson returning next year.

“There’s a lot of Mainland teams we haven’t seen, but we think we can compete with any of them when we’re at our best,” Jordache said.

Island first team all-stars: Erik Spaven (Belmont), Jerod Dorby (Cowichan), Liam Horne (Oak Bay), Darian Vandermerwe (Spectrum), Mat Hampton (Oak Bay). Second team all-stars: Kane Johnston (Belmont), Ashton MacKinnon (Mount Douglas), Harrison Mar (Mount Douglas), Andrew Larson (Cowichan), Alex Jordache (Claremont).

sports@vicnews.com