The Kelowna Owls didn’t find a way to unseat the top-ranked team in B.C. at their Interior Savings Western Canada Basketball Tournament on the weekend.
But it wasn’t for a lack of effort.
The Walnut Grove Gators pulled away from the Owls by just two baskets in the final minutes of Saturday’s back-and-forth final game between the No. 1 and No. 2-ranked AAAA teams in the province, winning the Interior Savings Western Canada Basketball Tournament 73-68.
“They hit a couple of key shots at the end and we just didn’t respond,” said KSS head coach Harry Parmar. “Our defense has improved, but we need to do a better job of closing out games offensively, making sure we execute in those final minutes.”
Walnut Grove took home the Jack May Trophy, newly renamed to honour May’s 44 years of dedication to the tournament.
Despite the disappointing finish, KSS lit up with school spirit over the weekend. The “Crazy Owls” cheering squad filled the baselines, leading a packed gym of alumni, teacher volunteers and community members in cheering on the Black and Gold. Local tournament all-star Owen Keys ignited the weekend with a resounding win in the Power 104FM Slam Dunk Contest.
The Owls tipped off their first game with a hard fought win over a hot South Kamloops squad that kept it close for three quarters and hit nearly 40 per cent of their 3-pointers. The Owls stayed steady at the free throw line and tightened up defensively enough to take the lead at the end and win 80-68.
Friday saw the boys hitting their stride as they defeated Semiahmoo 93-55. Kelowna guard and tournament MVP Mason Bourcier led the charge with 38 points, pulling down 7 of the team’s 25 defensive rebounds.
The final game on Saturday retold the tale of the season as KSS struggled to find an answer for the depth and experience of Walnut Grove.
“It really came down to a couple of last possessions where we just weren’t hitting our shots,” said coach Parmar. “This game gave us some great lessons for what we have to do offensively in the final minutes.”