For the young Okanagan College basketball program, a berth into this year’s league playoffs was in itself a small victory.
Both the men and women squads advanced to the post-season in just their second year in the Pacific Western Athletic Association (PacWest), marking a bright path for the young program.
Program head coach Dino Gini said that though both teams didn’t reach the podium, the finish paces a bright future for the Okanagan College program.
“We will take the positives from these playoffs and raise the bar and get to the next level next year,” Gini said.
“You can count on it.”
The men finished fourth in the tournament but picked up their first-ever playoff win in school history with a massive comeback in the quarter-finals against the Capilano Blues in an 84-82 win.
Down 17 points, the Yotes went on a 15-0 run with less than four minutes remaining. Led by guards Eric Marbury and Jeff Tubbs, OC stole the lead in the dying minutes and outscored the Blues 29-18 in the final quarter to advance to the semi-finals.
“(It was a) great gut check and great show of heart from our team,” said Gini.
“Extremely proud of them, they kept on grinding and found energy and big plays in the last four minutes.”
In the semis, the Yotes came up short against the No. 2 seed VIU Mariners in an 88-80 loss. Okanagan College found themselves down early and though they fought hard towards the comeback, the Mariners outlasted the onslaught to end the Coyotes’ post-season.
“We had the opportunity (to win) and we could taste it, but that is something we will bring with us next year,” said Gini.
Marbury was named to the PacWest 2nd All-Star team at the end of the tournament, in which the Douglas Royals were named champions.
In their own first-ever post-season appearance, the Okanagan College women squad came up against a high-powered Douglas College team in a 77-54 loss.
The Coyote’s Sapna Deo led with 14 points as OC was knocked out of the PacWest playoffs.
Rookie Jordan Kemper was selected to the All-Rookie PacWest team, a milestone for the young Coyotes team and one of the most improved programs in the PacWest this season.
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