In keeping with tradition, the UBC Okanagan Heat men’s and women’s basketball teams are heading into the community to promote their sport with exhibition games Friday night at Immaculata Regional High School.
Both teams will be playing against Vancouver Island University with the women’s tip-off at 6 p.m., followed by the men’s at 8 p.m.
The exhibition games give the community an opportunity to watch high-level basketball played by university student-athletes.
Many of the CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport) players on the court hail from Immaculata and other Kelowna or Okanagan area high schools.
Organizer for the event and a longtime supporter of basketball in the community Dino Gini understands the connection these types of events can have on young basketball players.
“I just think these games are so important for the community and for the Heat players and gives the Heat program just a little more exposure to kids and families that have not been able to make it out to UBCO,” explains Gini.
Both UBC Okanagan coaches, Claire Meadows in her second season on the women’s side, and Pete Guarasci entering his fifth season for the men, are appreciative and welcome the chance to play a community focused game.
“Our team is very excited to once again be able to play in front of our supportive community at Immaculata. A special thanks to both the school and Dino Gini for hosting this event,” said Meadows.
This year’s Heat women’s team features three players from Immaculata High as well as six others from the Okanagan Valley. Sisters Olivia and Emma Johnson, as well as rookie Nicole Hart, return to their former stomping ground for this exhibition game.
The Johnson’s younger sister Kate currently attends Immaculata High School and plays on the Mustang basketball team. Other players from the Okanagan Valley include Carly Corrado (Kelowna), Emily Kanester (Vernon), Jordyn Cullum (Vernon), Jordan Korol (Coldstream), Chloe Kennedy (Summerland), and Haylie Gibb (Salmon Arm).
The men’s team does not feature any former Immaculata players but does include six Kelowna area players. Matt Lafontaine, Navtej Sandhu, Buzz Truss, Mitchell Goodwin and Davide Ciancio all attended Kelowna Secondary School, while Sam Striker attended Heritage Christian School in Kelowna.
The men’s team will scrimmage this weekend against Douglas College and will play an Alumni game on Saturday night starting at 6 p.m. at UBC Okanagan.
This will be the fifth time the Heat men have played an exhibition game at Immaculata. The men have also played a games at Mt. Boucherie and in 2008-09 played a league game at Kelowna Secondary School.