Basketball Falcons fly into provincials

The Sardis Falcons head into AAA BC high school boys basketball provincials thinking upset.

Winners of four straight, the Sardis secondary school senior boys basketball team heads into this week’s BC AAA provincial tournament with momentum and swagger.

Whether that’s enough to get wins against the best of the best in high school hoops is anyone’s guess.

But win or lose, the Falcons will be making history.

It is hard to believe, but according to coach Kyle Graves, this is the first Falcon team to ever qualify for provincials.

This year’s tournament takes place at the Langley Events Centre.

“We’re a big school that’s had great players and coaches, but the timing and right mix hasn’t been there through the years,” the bench boss said.

Graves himself never went farther than the Fraser Valley tourney when he was a dominant big man for Sardis.

From day one, Graves thought this year’s group might be the one to finally break through.

One elite player will take you places, and Graves had returning big man Hayden Lejeune.

Two elite players make you a contender, and Eric Rogers teamed with Lejeune to give Sardis a lethal one-two punch.

Graves thought he had the supporting cast, with guys like Jason Kroeker, Cam Servatius and Jordan Vandrimmlen chipping in offensively and defensively. But a coach never knows for sure until he sees his team on the floor.

“We had everything a team wants with athleticism, height and skill, and at the beginning of the year we sat down and said that we were making provincials,” Graves said. “The boys put in the work all year, a group of 14 who really pushed themselves. They really ran with the idea that they would be making history.”

Things almost came off the rails in Fraser Valleys, where the Falcons stumbled, losing two of their first three games.

“We played W.J. Mouat and Walnut Grove, and both of them just killed us,” Vandrimmlen said. “At halftime of the Mouat game, I went into the change room and yelled at everybody and made a couple guys cry. Over the next few games, they looked back at that game and said, ‘We’re not going to let that happen again.’”

Still, after a third loss, 75-64 to Enver Creek on Feb. 22, Sardis had their backs against the wall.

Three nights later they stayed alive with an 82-61 win over North Delta.

On February 28, they faced Lord Tweedsmuir with a provincial berth on the line. They came up with an 84-70 win, then bounced Terry Fox (85-69) and Enver Creek (70-57) to improve their provincial seeding.

“Every game that’s do or die, it’s like we’re a different team,” Vandrimmlen noted. “Desperation maybe? Now that we’re in provincials, I don’t think we’re facing the same pressure. We’re really excited, walking the halls and high fiving each other. We’ve accomplished one of our goals, and now we’ve just got to go play basketball and see what happens.”

Vandrimmlen has played for Sardis the last three years, and has seen the program ascend from bottom dweller to championship contender.

In his first year, the team didn’t win much, and the home-court audience consisted of family members and custodial staff.

In his second year, the team improved and the people noticed. The gym wasn’t packed, but b-ball was on the radar.

This year, the place rocked at every home game.

“Everyone in the school has been talking about us this year, and they’ve been coming to all of our games and making a lot of noise,” Vandrimmlen smiled. “With us making provincials, they’re setting up a couple fan buses and it looks like we’re going to have a big cheering section. The fans have no idea how much they help us and fire us up.”

The Falcons open at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow morning, facing the Burnaby South Rebels.

If all goes well, Sardis hopes to get another crack at W.J. Mouat or Walnut Grove.

“I want to play Walnut Grove. All the boys want to play and beat Walnut Grove,” Vandrimmlen said. “So I’m hoping we play them in our second game and we get an upset win.”

“We’ll have to pull off a big upset against one of the top three (Walnut Grove, W.J. Mouat or White Rock Christian), but the boys have set a goal of a top four finish, which is realistic,” Graves added. “We have all the tools to knock off one of those teams, and it has happened. It’s not impossible, but it would be a major upset.”

Win or lose, Vandrimmlen plans to take it all in, savouring his last precious moments in high school basketball.

“It’s special to know my last basketball game, maybe ever, is going to be in a Sardis jersey in front of a couple thousand fans,” he said. “To go out on the big stage like that is pretty cool.”

Find all the tournament info online at and check next week’s Chilliwack Progress sports section to see how the local lads did.

Just Posted

Robin Sanford and her fiance Simon Park were married in an impromptu ceremony at Abbotsford Regional Hospital on June 16. (Submitted photo)
Mom dies day after witnessing daughter’s hospital wedding in Abbotsford

Nurses help arrange impromptu ceremony in 3 hours for bride and groom

Alexis Paige Simpson has not been in contact with her family in two months. (RCMP photo)
UPDATE: Chilliwack RCMP looking for missing 20-year-old woman

Parents of Alexis Paige Simpson provide corrected information in missing person report

BC Wildfire Service (Black Press Media files)
Fire at Eleven Mile Creek near Hope classified as out of control

It’s a small blaze so far at 20 hectares, but firefighters don’t yet have a handle on it

A drone’s-eye view of the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge. (Screenshot/Shutter Speed Network)
Kent Council advocates for a wider Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge

Council voted unanimously to send letter of concern to transportation ministry

Tourism Abbotsford has launched the ‘Let’s Go Do Something’ campaign to encourage visitors to check out all Abbotsford has to offer. (Tourism Abbotsford photo)
Tourism Abbotsford launches ‘Let’s Go Do Something’ campaign

Visitors encouraged to check out all Abbotsford has to offer this summer

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Health Minister Adrian Dix announced in December that Surrey’s new hospital will be located in Cloverdale, next to KPU. (File photo: Malin Jordan)
Health minister expects construction of Surrey’s new hospital in Cloverdale to begin in 2023, open in 2027

Adrian Dix spoke Tuesday in a Zoom meeting hosted by the Surrey Board of Trade concerning the new hospital

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson with Premier John Horgan after the budget speech Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. home owner grant won’t be altered, despite expert advice

Tax break for residences worth up to $1.6 million too popular

B.C. conservation officer Sgt. Todd Hunter said a black bear is believed to have killed local livestock. (THE NEWS/files)
Black bear believed to have killed miniature donkey in Maple Ridge

Trap set for predator that has been killing livestock

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Penticton mayor John Vassilaki and Minister of Housing David Eby have been battling over the Victory Church shelter and BC Housing projects in the city. (File photos)
Penticton heads to court over homeless shelter as BC Housing audit begins

The city was not satisfied with the response from Minister David Eby regarding the ongoing situation

People enjoy the sun at Woodbine Beach on June 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin
BC Hydro assures customers it has ‘more than enough’ power to weather the heatwave

Despite an increase of pressure on the Western grid, blackouts are not expected like in some U.S. states

Air Canada planes sit on the tarmac at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Pilots say no reason to continue quarantines for vaccinated international travellers

Prime minister says Canada still trying to limit number of incoming tourists

Police closed off 16th Avenue between 232nd and 240th streets in Aldergrove Saturday night at the site of a reported motor vehicle accident. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Survivors of rollover crash thank Good Samaritans for coming to their aid

Collision flipped vehicle into a 10-foot ditch on 16th Avenue in Langley

Most Read