In most cases, topping the 80-point barrier would be more than enough ammunition for the 2012 edition of the Kelowna Owls senior boys’ team to subdue their opponents.
Not so on Saturday night inside a jam-packed KSS gym, as the Edmonton Harry Ainlay Titans dissected the Owls’ defense for a 91-85 win in the final of the Interior Savings Western Canada Basketball Tournament.
The Owls, who were looking to win the school’s first Western Canada title in 30 years, surrendered the lead in the second quarter against the hot-shooting Titans and simply couldn’t get it back.
It was the most points allowed in a game this season by B.C.’s No. 1-ranked team.
“It really came down to our defense, we just didn’t play well at all,” said Owls 6-foot-11 post Braxston Bunce who had 25 points and 15 rebounds in the final. “We just kind of traded baskets, we didn’t get any consecutive stops, we didn’t do what we had to do to win. It’s disappointing.”
“We gave up 91 points,” added Owls coach Harry Parmar. “That’s on each person, we’re playing man-to-man defense and we give up that many ? You can’t do that and win games.”
Even Mitch Goodwin’s heroics weren’t enough to put KSS over the top as the Owls’ point guard drained a game-high 37 points in the final.
Harry Ainlay, the top-ranked team from Alberta, was led to victory by tournament MVP Lyndon Annets who netted 25 points.
Titans’ coach George Hoyt said beating a team of the Owls’ quality in their own gym is an accomplishment worth celebrating.
“We’re kind of used to being in hostile enviroments, we run a tournament close to the same size as this, so we probably play three to four times a year in front of a crowd like this,” said Hoyt. “I think because of that, we were able to handle that first quarter, make some adjustments and survive it.
“That’s a great team,” he said of KSS. “I don’t know if we were to play them three times if we’d win that series.”
As badly as the Owls wanted to win the school’s first Western Canada title in three decades, it isn’t the trophy KSS most covets.
The No. 1-ranked team in the province still has five weeks left in the season, with the biggest prize still up for grabs—the B.C. championship next month in Langley.
Coach Parmar said like any defeat, the Owls will benefit from their experience at the WCBT.
“It’s a good learning tool,” Parmar said. “We had some people who were frustrated out there. We have to do a better job of keeping our emotions in check, and we can’t have defensive lapses like we had. We need to get better and improve from this moving forward.”
And now that the KSS squad is more aware of its shortcomings, Braxston Bunce said it’s time for the Owls to correct them and be armed and ready for provincials.
“We’re going try not to dwell on this too much, we’ll get back at it and get to work” said Bunce.
“It’s a wake-up call for us and for our younger guys. Maybe we’re not quite as good as we thought, so it’s time to take it up a notch…time to really step it up heading into the final weeks so we can go out and get what we’ve wanted all along.”
Goodwin, who led all players with a 28.3 points-per-game average during the tournament, was named the Owls top player.
Bunce, who grabbed 38 rebounds over three games, was the top defensive player for KSS.
Grade 11 guard Joel Burma was named the Owls’ most inspirational player.
Both Goodwin and Bunce were named to the tournament’s first all-star team.