Dan Kinvig, UFV Athletics
ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – From having his life flash before his eyes to having the game of his life, Manny Dulay rode quite an emotional roller-coaster on Friday.
We'll begin this tale by revealing the ending. Dulay, the outstanding fifth-year point guard with the University of the Fraser Valley men's basketball team, put on a phenomenal shooting show against the Victoria Vikes, counting eight three-pointers among his game-high 36 points to power the Cascades to a thrilling 87-83 come-from-behind win.
But that performance was only the second-most adrenaline-inducing experience Dulay encountered on Friday.
With the Lower Mainland of B.C. buffeted by a rare snowstorm which began in the morning, Highway 1 became a virtual parking lot with cars creeping down snowbound lanes by the evening. Dulay and teammate Nav Bains, traveling from their hometown of Surrey to UFV's Envision Athletic Centre, were stuck in the midst of it. Progress ranged from slow to non-existent, and the clock ticked ever-closer to game time.
We'll let Dulay pick up the story from here.
"We were in the left lane (headed eastbound), and the right lane opened up," he began. "As we switched, Nav's car started swerving and we actually did a 360 (degree spin) in both lanes. We ended up in the left lane, but now we're facing these cars (going in the same direction). Luckily, no one was coming right behind us, and everyone went around us. We didn't end up in the ditch, and no car hit us.
"We didn't want to tell anyone (when we got to the gym), but we actually almost died."
Dulay and Bains arrived at 7:45, just 15 minutes before tip-off, and by the time they got dressed, there were just eight minutes left in warm-up. They'd arrived too late for Cascades head coach Adam Friesen to pencil them into the starting lineup, so they both began the game on the bench for the first time all season.
They got in after three minutes had elapsed, and Dulay ended the first quarter without so much as a field goal attempt.
The second and third quarters were a different story, though. Dulay went 10-for-10 from the field, including 8-for-8 from beyond the arc, for 30 points by the end of the third, the crowd roaring louder with every triple that splashed through.
The Vikes, though, were red-hot themselves – the Cascades simply couldn't stop them in the third quarter. The visitors racked up 33 points in the frame, and took a 73-65 lead to the fourth.
But after being carried by Dulay to that point, the rest of the Cascades joined him in the fourth. UFV finally found some defensive traction, limiting the Vikes to 10 points in the quarter, and rallied for the win.
Dulay didn't make a field goal in the fourth – his three-pointer from the left wing with about 40 seconds left in regulation had everyone in the gym rising to their feet before it rimmed out – and it was Andrew Morris who put on the hero's cape in the dying seconds. His three-pointer from the top of the key with 1:25 remaining gave the Cascades their first lead of the second half (84-83) and he hit a free throw with 21 seconds left to make it a two-point game.
The Cascades had to sweat out a potential game-tying two-point jumper from Vikes star Grant Sitton, but it rimmed out, and Dulay, appropriately, made a pair of free throws to seal the win.
Along with his 36 points, Dulay added seven assists and four rebounds. Morris scored 14 points, and Bains had 10.
Sitton racked up 26 points, including four triples, nine rebounds and five assists, and J.J. Hamel-Carey added 15 points for the Vikes.
Asked how he could perform like that after his freeway ordeal, Dulay said he actually fed off the adrenaline.
"We were so amped (after the close call on the freeway), and we couldn't calm down," he said. "We were talking about how we were so lucky, and that was kind of in my mind the whole night – being able to play, being happy on the court. I think that kind of drove me to play basketball carefree."
And how did it feel to hit so many shots in a row?
"It's just one of those things," he said. "Once you hit a couple and see them go through the net, and you see what's working and where you're getting those shots . . . I just kept going with that. I kept getting good looks, and fortunately today I knocked them down."
The Cascades (8-9, tied for eighth in Canada West) and Vikes (7-10, tied for 12th) clash again on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Envision Athletic Centre. It's Senior Night for fifth-year basketball players Dulay, Vijay Dhillon and Kayli Sartori from the UFV women's team. An on-court ceremony will be held immediately after the women's game (at roughly 6:30 p.m.).