Kelly Broderick knows it’s only the first round.
Still, knocking off the rival Kelowna Owls this week in Okanagan Valley senior boys basketball action was a significant step for his Mt. Boucherie Bears.
The Bears, who headed into the week ranked No. 9 in the province at the 4A level, took down the fifth-ranked Owls 104-83 Tuesday night at Boucherie.
“It was a big win for us,” said Broderick, the Bears’ head coach. “We have to put it into perspective though, that this is just the first step, but it really is a great step.
“The guys are starting to understand that they have to work and earn this against the top teams and they know what’s needed to compete.”
Jeff Tubbs paced the Bears with 26 points, Kache Kopec added 23, Quincy Johnson had 22 points and 14 rebounds, while Braden Koop added 14 and 14.
For the Owls, Grade 10 Grant Shephard connected for 20 points, while Nav Sandhu added 14.
The Owls, who were playing their eighth game in 12 days—all against ranked teams—may have been experiencing some fatigue. But head coach Harry Parmar isn’t about to use it as an alibi.
“We were a step slow,” said Parmar. “It’s about what you do when you don’t have your best game, you find ways to get things done. Mentally we didn’t rise to the level we needed to.
“We’re not playing any defense,” he added. “You shouldn’t lose when you score 83 points.”
It was the first of two regular season meetings between the teams, the next on Feb. 17 at KSS.
The Bears and Owls are very likely to face off a third time in the Okanagan Valley championship on Feb. 27. Only the valley winner will advance to the B.C. championship, March 10 to 15 in Langley.
While his team won’t spend much time savouring their upset win, Broderick said the Bears will carry a heightened degree of confidence into the final weeks of the season.
“There was some surprise, but the what the guys came out of it with is that we can do it, we can compete,” Broderick added. “We are getting better each week, and there is an understanding as a collective group that we can compete with the top five in the province.”
Last weekend, the Bears won two of three games at the Pitt Meadows Air Show tournament, blowing out Belmont and Charles Hayes, and falling 83-75 to No. 7 Heritage Woods. Boucherie will be in West Vancouver Jan. 29 to 31 for a tournament at Collingwood.
Meanwhile, the Owls split four games last weekend at the Abbotsford Snowball Tournament, beating Walnut Grove and Brentwood, then losing to Burnaby South and Kitsilano.