A heart-wrenching loss in the semifinals could have just easily sucked the life right out of the Kelowna Owls.
Instead, the KSS squad decided there was only one way it wanted to remember the B.C. high school boys basketball season—with a victory.
On Saturday in Langley, the Owls soared past the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs 100-79 to win the bronze medal at the provincial 4A championship.
The third-place effort equalled the best ever performance by a KSS team as the 1990 Owls also won a bronze medal.
KSS, ranked third heading into provincials, had a potential gold medal in their sights, but fell in the semifinal 84-79 to the second-ranked Yale Lions.
The Owls trailed by just a point with 39 seconds remaining but couldn’t come up with the winning play.
While the loss was a tough pill to swallow, KSS co-captain Parker Simson said it wasn’t enough to deprive his teammates of the desire to conclude the season on a high.
“It sort of came down to who wanted it the most,” said Simson, a second team all-star at provincials. “Churchill lost their (semifinal) at the buzzer and I think that really affected them.
“What I saw in our guys is that everybody was all in for it, they wanted to do it for the seniors and we all wanted to go out with a medal,” Simson added. “We didn’t didn’t play our best against Yale and didn’t get exactly what we wanted…but it was still a pretty good feeling to end like that and we played really well (against Churchill).”
In the bronze medal game, Grade 11 guard Matt Lafontaine had 25 points and 12 rebounds, while 6-foot-8 Grade 10 forward Grant Shephard added 21 points and 13 boards.
Shephard joined Simson on the second all-star team.
The bronze medal game signalled the final farewell for five KSS seniors—Dylan Hare, Cam Feil, Rashaun Roulhac, Vinayak Pendharkar and Jordan White.
Led by Simson, the Owls will have a solid returning corps next season and many believe will be the favourite in B.C. high school basketball in 2016.
With likes of Shephard, Lafontaine, Davide Ciancio and co-captain Nav Sandhu, Simson likes what lies ahead for the KSS program.
“We have a pretty strong base coming back,” said Simson. “We didn’t get what we wanted, so this gives us something to work for next year. We know what it takes now to win and we’ve got some really good players who have been there.”
Earlier this winter, the Owls the became just the second KSS team and the first in 33 years to win the Western Canada Basketball Tournament in Kelowna, defeating Oak Park from Winnipeg in the final.