Even the flu bug wasn't going to prevent the Delta Pacers from winning the third annual Stebbings/Murray Cup in convincing fashion.
The senior boys basketball team delivered the knockout blow early and cruised to a 75-45 victory over cross-town rival South Delta Sun Devils on Tuesday night in Tsawwassen.
"We have all been sick and it's been passing around among the team for the past couple of weeks," said Pacers coach Matt McKay, who was looking forward to heading home and climbing into bed after his team's impressive win.
"Tonight, we weren't happy settling for just being good enough. Offensive and defensively, we kept competing and executing at the level we expect. That was a real positive."
After two straight years of very competitive games, this one was all but over after one quarter as the Pacers raced out to a 22-8 lead then scored eight unanswered points to start the second.
A 43-19 halftime advantage allowed McKay to go deep into his bench as his young squad continues to make significant strides.
One night earlier, the Pacers hung tough with No. 2 White Rock Christian, falling 74-63. It was a performance that helped earned them honourable mention status in the latest provincial "AAA" rankings, while flooring a starting line-up that features three Grade 11s and two Grade 10s.
They will face some huge tests again next week, starting on Tuesday when No. 5 Tamanawis Wildcats visits Ladner at 7 p.m. in Fraser Valley Southwest League play. They will then host the inaugural Bill Kushnir Memorial Tournament, with Port Moody's Heritage Woods as their opening round opponent. Win that, and No. 1 ranked Yale awaits in the semi-finals.
As for the Sun Devils, it's shaping up as a challenging year for head coach James Johnston and his staff with just two players back who saw significant playing time a year ago - Nolan Sullivan and Gord Nicholson.
Their roster doesn't feature as single member of the championship football team that featured 31 players. The athletic talent pool simply isn't deep enough at the Tsawwassen school for varsity teams to be competitive without kids crossing over to other sports.
McKay knows the Sun Devils situation well, having taught at SDSS last year before coming to Delta.
"Nolan Sullivan is a very talented kid and I thought Ryan Cowley did a good job on him," he added. "As a team we also did a good job being aware where he was all the time."
Nicholson led the Sun Devils with a game-high 19 points. Sullivan added eight. Bowen Bakken paced a balanced Delta attack with 13 points. Andrew Jones had 12, as did Grade 10 Sam Evanson, who was praised by McKay for his play off the bench. Cowley chipped in with eight.
The only thing that didn't go right for the Pacers was Jones suffering a second quarter ankle sprain. McKay hopes his standout guard will be ready for next week's tough schedule.