Atmosphere 2nd to none at Kelowna tourney
A year ago, a broken ankle kept Buzz Truss from performing in one of the premier events of the season in high school boys' basketball.
Healthy and at the top of his game in 2014, the captain of the host Kelowna Owls can't wait for the Interior Savings Western Canada Basketball Tournament to tip off on Thursday at KSS.
For Truss, who first played at the WCBT when he was in Grade 10, the annual tourney is second to none when it comes to both atmosphere and intensity.
"This tournament is always exciting," said Truss, a 6-foot-4 forward who is in his senior year with the Owls. "Missing out on it last year was a bummer, it was really hard to sit and watch, so it's nice to be able to play in it.
"The atmosphere is fantastic, and it's a chance for the guys to play in front of their school and their classmates."
The Owls open play Thursday at 8:15 p.m. against the Jasper Place Rebels from Edmonton.
The odds on favourite to win this week is B.C.'s No. 2-ranked team from Langley, the Walnut Grove Gators, featuring the highly-touted Jadon Cohee, arguably the top player in the province.
Rounding out the teams are the Holy Cross Crusaders and South Surrey Rebels from B.C., Calgary's Bishop O'Byrne, the Balfour Redmen of Regina, and Oak Park Raiders from Winnipeg.
Coaching his Owls for the seventh straight year at the WCBT, Harry Parmar said with plenty of hype surrounding the tournament, the key for his players will be putting things in perspective and playing with composure.
"We always talk about just getting to the next play, forgetting about what happened, good or bad and moving on," said Parmar. "It's a big event, a lot of these guys have been watching this since Grade 3, so they know it's a big deal. Then again, it's really just playing basketball and they key is to not make it any bigger than it really is."
For the Owls, the WCBT is the last major event of the season leading up the valley playoffs, and potentially provincials.
Truss and his fellow seniors would like to most the most of their final opportunity to play in one of B.C.'s most prestigious tournaments.
"I'm definitely going to play my heart out," Truss said. "It's a chance for us to put on a show, so hopefully we'll do well and have fun with it. It's important, but then again it's not the biggest goal for us. We want to get to provincials."
The 41st annual tournament tips off Thursday at 2:30 p.m. with Regina Balfour playing Holy Cross.
The Power 104 Slam Dunk Contest goes Thursday night at 7:30, while the Big Kahuna 3 Point Contest goes Friday at 7:30.
The championship final will tip off Saturday at 7:45 p.m.