The Kelowna Owls confirmed why they’re considered a frontrunner for the B.C. high school boys AAA basketball championship in March 2012.
KSS turned aside all challengers en route to claiming the top prize at the Telus Basketball Classic over the weekend in Vancouver.
The Owls, who lost their first two games of the new season, reeled off four straight wins against top-10 ranked opposition, securing the tournament title with a 88-80 win over the Vancouver College Fighting Irish on Saturday night at UBC’s War Memorial Gym.
Two of B.C.’s elite high school players, 6-foot-11 post Braxston Bunce and guard Mitch Goodwin, produced in the final for the Owls with 26 and 20 points, respectively.
But it was high school rookie and Grade 10 wing Buzz Truss who lit up the scoreboard down the stretch and finished with a game-high 28 points.
“He was amazing,” Owls coach Harry Parmar said of Truss’s performance. “He just goes out there and plays, it’s like he’s like he’s in his own world. He really stepped up for us.”
The Owls were pushed hard in the tournament’s first three games, but came away with victories each time.
Goodwin had 25 points and Bunce added 18 points and 16 boards in an 88-81 opening victory over Tamanawis.
In the quarters finals Thursday, Truss had 14 points, while Bunce and Goodwin added 12 each in a 68-61 verdict over Kitsilano.
In the semis, with Bunce having fouled out, Goodwin took charge with 33 points in a 77-70 overtime win over St. George’s.
With eight new players in the lineup, Parmar said the tournament win was a nice way to launch the new season.
“It was baptism under fire for a lot of our young guys, the intensity they saw and matching match up with those teams, they did a great job,” he said. “It’s not easy winning these high-calibre tournaments, it’s the first one we’ve won in the eight years since I’ve been here. It was nice to get this one.”
Goodwin, Bunce and Truss were all named to the tournament’s first all-star team.
As an added bonus, Goodwin’s play earned him a four-year $25,000 scholarship should he choose to play university basketball in B.C.
Bunce has a verbal commitment for next season with Cornell University.
KSS began the season ranked No. 1, then slipped to No. 9 after a pair of losses to start 2011-12.
The Owls will undoubtedly catapult back near the top when the new rankings are released this week, but such numbers are of little consequence to Parmar.
“The accolades are nice, it’s nice for the kids, but it’s more for water fountain talk,” he said. “We don’t get caught up in it. We’re just playing games right now and taking care of our own business. It’s what we’re doing on the court and getting better that matters.”
The Owls played their league opener Monday night against Penticton, then will battle Salmon Arm Tuesday night at KSS.
The Owls will then break for Christmas before returning to action Dec. 28 to 30 at a tournament in Olympia, Wash.