The 2015 Kelowna Owls were more than happy to oblige their fans by ending the school’s 33-year title-drought at the Interior Savings Western Canada Basketball Tournament.
Still, Harry Parmar insists the streak had very little to do with his players being motivated to win the annual three-day showcase at KSS.
“We never talked about the streak at all,” said Parmar, the Owls’ head coach. “We just really wanted to win the tournament and that’s what carried us through. We gutted it out in every game and found a way to win. The effort by the boys was overwhelming.”
Inside a boisterous, jam-packed KSS gym on Saturday night, the Owls gave their fans the school’s first WCBT championship since 1982 with an impressive 70-57 victory over Winnipeg’s Oak Park Raiders, the No. 1-ranked team from Manitoba.
Owls guard and tournament MVP Parker Simson paced his team in the finale with 18 points, while Matt Lafontaine added 15, and Nav Sandhu, 12.
As was the case all in all three games, the Owls put on a staunch defensive effort against Oak Park—another big reason why KSS was hoisting the trophy on Saturday night.
“I used to be an Xs and Os guy, but the last little while I realized that you’ve gotta play defense to win,” said Parmar, whose team yielded a tournament low average of 61 points per game. “It’s about taking ownership of your end and the kids did that. (Oak Park) was a good, big team and we competed and rebounded against them. The kids have worked so hard, and their mental toughness is getting better all the time, too.”
Despite still not being in peak physical condition, Simson finished the tourney with a team-high 58 points. Simson lost 10 pounds after a bout of pancreatitis last month, forcing Parmar to keep his floor time well under the 40-minute maximum.
“He would never use (pancreatitis) as an excuse, he just battles through it and is an unbelievable competitor,” said Parmar. “He works so hard, so do all of our kids. I’m proud of them.”
When it came to the pressure and hype attached to playing on their home court, the head coach said his Owls couldn’t have handled it any better. The reward, said Parmar, are memories that will last a lifetime.
“It was nice to see them play with poise,” he added. “They didn’t run away and kill teams, they just played like they had to.
“It was nice to win and the student body was awesome. Those 13 boys have made history and that’s something they’ll always have…the moment is theirs forever.”
Still, as much as claiming the WCBT title was a defining moment for the Owls’ program, one bigger goal remains for the 2015 team—the B.C. 4A boys championship next month in Langley.
“We’ll enjoy and savour this, then we’ll refocus and go back to work,” said Parmar. “There’s another prize out there we want and we believe we have a shot at.”
Meanwhile, Nav Sandhu was named the Owls’ top defensive forward, while Matt Lafontaine was named the tournament’s all-star team.
The rest of the Owls are: Colin McGrath, Vinayak Pendharkar, Jae Redrum Steinhauer Davide Ciancio, Dylan Hare, Cam Feil, Peter Warshawski, Jordan White, Grant Shephard and Rashaun Roulhac
Parmar is assisted by Brad Heuser and Quinton Theissen.