Hyacks aim to get hot for playoffs

While it looks like B.C.ers have escaped, for the moment, that chilly winter feeling that’s trapped parts of Eastern Canada in snow, think again.

The New Westminster Hyacks’ shooters spent the past days with a touch of Jack Frost.

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Although the senior boys basketball team posted a 3-2 record the past two weeks, it came despite a drought in the scoring department.

Hyacks head coach Ted Cusick said the cold spell, just like the weather variety, is due for a thaw.

“Our shooting has just gone to pot,” said Cusick, noting how the players hit only three of 31 free throws in the Midtown Classic final on Saturday. It was an 88-77 loss to Guildford Park, where the Surrey team fended off the Hyacks rally attempts for much of the night.

They were almost as cold the day previous, hitting just four of 25 from the line.

Mix in a string of turnovers, and winning becomes difficult, noted the coach.

 “When you’re a running team turnovers mean less than if you’re a slow-down team,” Cusick noted. “For us, it hurts. I’m happy if we can keep it to 10, but lately it’s been like 30 (a game).”

Luke Burton netted 20 points in the loss, while Ethan Rivas, back after missing the previous game due to a minor injury, counted 18 points. Chipping in with 16 was Simon Cruz.

In the semifinal on Friday, New West knocked off host Eric Hamber 69-63, powered by Kirk Bothwell’s 19 points and 10 rebounds. AJ Chol contributed 13 points, and Udhay Mangat filled in admirably for Rivas with 10 points and nine boards.

They had opened the tourney with a solid 80-67 triumph over David Thompson, with Rivas racking up 33 points and 16 rebounds, while Mo Al-Ghreibawi drained 18 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

It helped ease the sting from last week’s 82-66 setback to league rival Byrne Creek, which guaranteed a third-place finish and seeding.

“They shot really well and we didn’t – simple as that,” said the coach.

Although the past month has had it’s hiccups, the long-time hoop coach is feeling positive as the playoffs approach.

“I’m real positive about this bunch. Once we get on a roll, and I know they can, we can play with anyone.”

The Hyacks are in the mix of this weekend’s Robert Bateman T-wolves tournament after launching that series with a hard-fought 76-74 win over Pitt Meadows Thursday morning.

They return to host round 1 of the Burnaby-New West league playoffs on Monday.

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