Battle lines drawn at Western Canada Basketball Tournament
The 39th edition of the Interior Savings Western Canada Basketball Tournament tips off Thursday, Feb. 2 at Kelowna Secondary School.
Here's a look at the first-round match ups in the eight-team event, beginning with the host and No. 1 ranked KSS Owls.
• No.1 (B.C.) Kelowna Owls vs. No. 8 (Alta.) St Francis, Alberta—Feb 2, 8:15 p.m.
St. Francis Browns
Style of play: an up-tempo team that loves to push the ball up the floor and use both height and athleticism to their advantage.
Strengths: balance, depth and experience
A trio of seniors lead the Browns from both inside and outside the paint as they travel to the Interior for Westerns. Leading the attack is senior point guard Isaac Agyei averaging eight points and six assists per match.
Agyei is the on floor leader and is adept at controlling the flow of the game. He is lightning quick and can get into the paint with ease to create for his teammates or himself.
Inside, the Browns are led by 6-foot-5 Kadin Majcher. This small forward has been with the program since grade 10 and has been a top scorer over the last three seasons.
Kadin is also a lockdown defender who takes great pride in defending the opponent's top scorers. And contributing inside is 6-foot-6 forward Alex Auer. Auer averages 10 points and 10 rebounds per game and Alex is the right blend of height and athleticism.
Style of play: Up tempo, offence from defense
Strengths: Scoring from inside and outside
Most people who follow basketball in the Okanagan would say that this one of the most talented Owl teams in recent memory, yet coach Harry Parmar and his squad still have business to attend to this year. After entering the provincial championships as the second seed last year, the Owls did not finish strong, and a bitter taste has lingered since, giving the Owls added motivation.
KSS has been the number one ranked team for most of the season and expectations are running high.
Inside force Braxton Bunce gives the Owls a bona fide big man with skills to match his size. At 6-foot-11, Bunce averages 20 points and 15 rebounds per game and can score from inside or outside.
Running the offence from the perimeter is senior point guard Mitch Goodwin.
Standing 6-foot-3 and being a phenomenal leaper, Goodwin can get his shot at will and distribute the ball over smaller, less athletic defenders.
Having nearly tasted victory at last year's Westerns, the Owls have one thing only on their minds in 2012—victory.
Other opening round games:
• No. 8 (B.C.) Kitsilano Blue Demons vs. No 5 (B.C.) White Rock Christian Warriors—Feb. 2, 2:30 p.m.
Kitsilano Blue Demons
Style of play: Up-tempo with a variety of defenses and offenses sets. Look to push the ball when the opportunity arises
Strengths: Good height and ability to run the fast break.
Kitsilano comes to the Okanagan as the 8th ranked team in BC, having been as high as number four. This year’s Blue Demons are led by a trio of forwards, two of which are only in grade 11. In the post, 6’6”, 250 pound Luka Zaharijevic provides a formidable presence. Zaharijevic, who averages 15 points and 14 rebounds per game and is in grade 11, will keep opposing big men honest and guards aware whenever they venture into the paint. Forward Tom Campbell, also in grade 11, leads the Blue Demons threat from the outside. With balanced averages of 10 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists per game, Campbell provides Kits with a talented outside scorer. And helping out both inside and outside is grade 12 leader David Burton. Burton's hard-nosed play and averages of 8 points and 8 rebounds per game contribute to a well-balanced Blue Demons attack.
White Rock Christian Warriors
Style of play: Skilled at every position, looks to create pressure both offensively and defensively, balanced offensive attack
Strengths: Lots of big game experience, tough defensively and can knock it down from outside
One word to describe White Rock this season is scary. Scary in the fact if one guy goes cold, there is another skilled player to pick up the slack. Also scary in the fact that if they get hot from the beyond the 3-point line, they could take out any team in the BC. The warriors are led by senior Jake Newman. At 6'7" and with averages of 15 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists per game, he Newman is one of the best high school players in BC. Newman can beat players off the dribble, he has touch around the rim, he has a silky pull-up jumper and he can knock down the three. He is a supportive teammate, and can always be counted on to perform. Complementing Newman is junior Tyus Allen. Allen is one of the most exciting and entertaining players to watch in the province. He led WRCA’s junior boys to the 2010-2011 provincial championship. He has an extremely high basketball IQ and Loves to compete. Born and raised a Warrior, there is no player in the school’s history that has left more blood, sweat or tears on the basketball courts of BC.
• No. 1 (Alta) Harry Ainlay Titans vs. No. 4 (B.C.) Tamanawis Wildcats—Feb. 2, 4:15 p.m.
Harry Ainlay Titans
Style of play: Aggressive on both sides of the ball, push the tempo
Strengths: In general, do not have a hard time scoring because of depth
A mature Titans squad comes to Kelowna on the strength of a 9-1 record, and centered around a duo of 3-year starters at the guard position. Point guard Kyle Peterson run the show for Harry Ainlay averaging 17 points and 5 assists per game. A provincial team player, Peterson can both score and defend, and has great court vision to go with his athleticism. Rounding out this dynamic backcourt pair is shooting guard and leading scorer Lyndon Annetts. Averaging 24 points per game, this Titan can fill it up and must be guarded at all times. Harry Ainlay has been to Westerns before and never says no to the offer to come to Kelowna because of the level of competition.
Style of play: A well rounded team that can play inside and out, very unselfish
Strengths: Play a team game
The Tamanawis Wildcats have burst onto the provincial basketball scene this year and have compiled a long list of wins over top 10 ranked teams. Leading the way for the fourth ranked team from Surrey is point guard Manjodh “Manny” Dulay. Manny averaged 21 points and 8 assists per game and is one of the best point guards in the province with a great IQ for the game. A true leader with a great shot and passing ability, he was named MVP at two tournaments this year: Burnaby South and the RCMP Classic. Contributing down low and averaging 14 points and 7 rebounds per contest is 6'7" forward Ravjot Dhaliwal. A true presence down low both on offense and defense, Dhaliwal has 3 point range and was awarded Best Defensive Player at the Burnaby South Tournament this year.
• Balfour Collegiate Redmen vs. No. 2 (B.C.) Pitt Meadows Marauders—Feb. 2, 6 p.m.
Balfour College Redmen
Style of Play: Multiple defenses, look to fast break, but are comfortable in half court situations
Strengths: big game experience
The Redmen have seven players returning, from last year’s provincial championship team. This year's squad has a total of 11 grade 12 players. They often all play in each game, so many players contribute to team scoring, and defensive systems. With that level of maturity, Balfour has many capable players, which will serve them well versus a well-oiled Marauder machine.
Pitt Meadows Marauders
Style of play: Semi-fast break, control type of team
Strengths: Defense has been solid this year, depth at fifth to nine spots on the team.
Playing in the basketball-rich environment of the Lower Mainland, Pitt Meadows is used to tough games night in and night out. This will serve them well at Westerns. Leading the scoring attack from the interior is 6'6" senior centre Trevor Seversinski, who averages 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. Seversinski is capable of scoring in numerous ways and is very solid at both ends of the court. From the outside, scoring punch comes from shooting guard Matt Blackaby. His high octane offensive skills have him scoring 18 points per contest.
The WCBT championship final will be played Saturday, Feb. 4 at 7:45 p.m.