Owls' dynamic duo look for golden finish
This weekend, two of the most dominant players in the history of the Kelowna Owls will bid adieu to their days on the high school basketball court.
And neither Mitch Goodwin nor Braxston Bunce can conceive of a better parting gift than a provincial title.
The No. 1-ranked Owls, led by the 6-foot-2 Goodwin and 6-foot-11 Bunce, will go for gold this week at the B.C. AAA boys high school basketball championship in Langley.
For the explosive, high-scoring Goodwin there's little question how he wants to remember his days wearing black, gold and white.
"I want to make sure I leave everything on the court at provincials, there are no more chances after this," said Goodwin, who averaged 22.4 points per game this season. "It makes me a little sad to think to think it'll soon be over, so hopefully we can finish it in a memorable way. A gold medal is what we all want."
The opportunity to conquer B.C. is a dream Goodwin and Bunce have been sharing for the last two seasons.
When his family moved from Armstrong to Kelowna for his Grade 11 year, Goodwin solidified the Owls' back court and, in concert with Bunce, made for B.C. high school basketball's most dangerous duo.
At the post position, Bunce's size, bruising inside game and scoring touch is a package few players can rival.
Bunce is anxious to finish the job this week with Goodwin, his good friend and teammate.
"It's been a pretty unique situation for us to be able to play together," said Bunce, who averaged 16.2 points and 11 rebounds this season. "I knew Mitch before he transferred here for Grade 11 and I knew he was a great player then. We've really grown together the last couple of years and it's been pretty special to play with him. Hopefully we can close it out the way we want to."
Not surprisingly, Bunce and Goodwin's exploits and skill on the court at KSS have opened some doors for both beyond the high school level.
Out of 17 offers from U.S. schools, Bunce chose Cornell University in New York and will play Div. 1 basketball there this coming fall.
Goodwin will attend Blair Academy, a prep school in Blairstown, New Jersey, with a jump to NCAA Div. 1 in the future likely to follow.
For Owls' coach Harry Parmar's money, Bunce and Goodwin are two of the premier talents he's ever seen on high school hardwood.
"In Braxston, you have one of the best big men ever to come out of B.C.," said Parmar," and in Mitch, I think you've got one of the best point guards to ever play in this province. I can see him going on to have a great career. He could possibly be a Steve Nash-type player.
"They've both been great," Parmar added. "It's been a pleasure coaching them; no issues at all. It would be nice if they could cap off their careers with a championship."
Overshadowed by Bunce and Goodwin are two other seniors who will also close out their high school careers this coming week—Austin Axenty and Neven Knezevic.
KSS will open play Wednesday night in the round of 16 against the winner of Tuesday's opening round game between Yale and Point Grey.
A second-round match-up against No. 8 Vancouver College is a distinct possibility. Van College is the only B.C.-based school to have beaten the Owls since Christmas.
No. 2 Pitt Meadows, No. 3 St. George's and No. 4 Walnut Grove will also be in the mix, all teams KSS has beaten this season.
As much of a role as Goodwin and Bunce will play at the B.C. championship, Parmar said the entire KSS squad will need to show up if the Owls are to win the first provincial boys title in school history.
"Those two guys need to bring their A games, but it's also true that if we play the way we can as team, we'll be very difficult to beat," said Parmar. "There have been variables all year in that you never know who else going to step up, every game or tournament it's someone different. Also, if we play good, sound fundamental defense like we can, we'll be hard to beat.
"We have four games we have to win," said Parmar. "No Okanagan team has ever won, it's a great chance for our guys to change that."
The B.C. championship final will be played Saturday at 8 p.m.