To say that the senior boys basketball program at Kelowna Christian School is thriving would be a colossal understatement.
For the fourth time in five seasons, Gib Hinz’s Knights’ have captured the B.C. A boys high school championship.
KCS secured provincial gold Saturday night in Langley with a 72-55 victory over St. Ann’s Academy from Kamloops in the title game.
Tournament MVP Brendan Rempel led the Knights to their 24th consecutive win with 16 points, while Ethan Klukas added 15. Klukas was also a force on defense limiting St. Ann’s biggest threat, Angad Multani to just 11 points.
As the defending champs and No. 1-ranked team in B.C. all season, the Knights faced high expectations at provincials—both internal and external—and, in the end, delivered the goods.
“I thought they responded to the challenge very well,” said Knights’ assistant coach Ken Reed. “Everything came together for them in the semifinal, and they just carried that over into the final. It was a very good team effort.”
In the semifinal, KCS rolled over Langley Christian 70-45, with Jordan Hass scoring 13 points.
Still, the road to the B.C. title wasn’t entirely smooth for the Knights who survived a close call in the second game of the tournament, just slipping past Pemberton 59-55.
KCS was forced to overcome a four-point deficit after three quarters.
Rempel secured three key rebounds in the final minute and while Drew Schulz scored three 3-point bombs in the final three minutes to seal the win.
“It was a tough game for our guys mentally, they came in No. 1 and maybe weren’t expecting to be challenged the way they were,” Reed said. “But the guys came through and did what they had to to win.”
KCS opened the weekend with 118-27 over Bulkley Valley as Ryan Linntell scored 22 points.
Schulz was named to the tournament’s first all-star team, while Linntell earned honourable mention.
The B.C. champion Knights are: Drew Schulz, Isaac Grimes, Ethan Klukas, Jordan Hass, Eric Langlois, Simon Benson, Noah Reich, Brendan Rempel, Ryan Linttell, Dan Seinen, Connor Loewen, Jared Ballantyne, Keelan Laughren and Bryce Mathews.
The head coach is Gib Hinz, and the assistants are Ken Reed, Daryl Klassen and Colton Tripke.
The only time in the last five years the Knights didn’t win the provincial A boys title was 2010 when they competed at the AAA level.
Bronze for Mustangs
The Immaculata Mustangs, ranked No. 2 heading in, won the bronze medal with a 76-60 victory Langley Christian. Alex Hart paced the Mustangs in the 3rd/4th place game with 32 points, while Dario Gini added 21.
“It was a great weekend and I am so proud of this group of kids,” said Mustangs coach Dino Gini. “We worked so hard and prepared so hard for this tournament and we deserved better.”
The heartbreaker for Immaculata came in the semifinals when they fell to St. Ann’s 99-92 in a double-overtime thriller. The teams were tied 71-71 after regulation, and 83-83 after the first overtime before St. Ann’s pulled away.
Coach Gini said a disappointing call by the referee late in the first overtime likely had a bearing on the eventual outcome. Gini said Alex Hart was intentionally fouled but was instead called for a five-second violation.
“It was a wrong call and that is all I can say, everyone in the gym knew they had to foul and somehow this official did not see the obvious, its was disappointing for the kids and I will leave it at that.”
Dario Gini had a spectacular 41-point effort for the Mustangs against St. Ann’s, while Alex Hart added 37.
Immaculata also earned wins over Cedars and Unity Christian.
Hart and Gini of Immaculata were named to the tournament’s first all-star team.