Preparing for the Interior Savings Western Canada Basketball Tournament without two of his top players in the lineup was never part of the plan for Harry Parmar.
Still, the head coach of the host Kelowna Owls isn’t about to dwell on his team’s recent misfortunes as the 40th edition of the prestigious eight-team tourney tips off on Thursday at KSS.
Late last month, the Owls lost leading scorer Buzz Truss for the season to a broken ankle, while veteran guard John Katerberg was forced to hang up his shoes earlier this year due an eligibility issue.
Parmar expects a little adversity to bring out the best in his players.
“It’s an opportunity for other players to step up, it’s an opportunity for our leftover starters to take on more minutes and more accountability for what we do,” said Parmar.
“The approach is no excuses. We can make excuses about who’s not here and who should be here, but ultimately we’re getting ready to play games and our goal is still to win every game we play.”
The Owls, ranked No. 7 in B.C., will open play at the 2013 WCBT Thursday at 8:15 p.m. against Jon Taylor Collegiate from Winnipeg, the ninth-ranked team in Manitoba.
In the absence of two of their top players, captain Joel Burma will be among those Owls counted on for leadership and plenty of quality minutes over the course of the tournament.
“We have to play harder and play smarter without them,” said Burma, a senior guard for KSS. “We can’t turn the ball over, we have to play a full 40 minutes with full intensity and we should be OK.”
Burma first watched the hype and hoopla of the Western Canada tournament as a Grade 9 student at Dr. Knox Middle School.
Now playing in the tournament for the second time as an Owl, Burma hopes to be a calming influence for his younger teammates.
“I was a little nervous the first time around, but now having played three games last year I know what to expect, and it’s exciting,” said Burma. “You just have remind (the rookies) to stay calm, it’s just another game. You want to win it because you’re at home, but you have to treat it like any other tournament and just go out and play.”
Included on this year’s roster of teams is B.C.’s third and fourth-ranked teams, Walnut Grove and Kitsilano, while the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs from Calgary are ranked third in Alberta.
Parmar, who will be coaching in his sixth Western Canada tournament, said it’s three-day stretch of basketball his players, win or lose, won’t soon forget.
“The kids are excited, it’s a really great venue and great environment and a lot goes into putting this on, so that’s why a lot of the best teams in Western Canada want to be here,” he said. “It’s time for the kids to showcase themselves in front of their peers and parents, and with that, sometimes they get a little jittery or overanxious. So you have to curb that a little, get them to focus and let their instincts take over.”
Action begins Thursday at 2:30 p.m. with Abbotsford’s W.J. Mouat taking on St. Francis Xavier from Edmonton.
The tournament final is set for 7:45 p.m. Saturday at KSS.
Interior Savings Western Canada Basketball Tournament
Feb. 7 to 9 @ KSS
Walnut Grove Gators, Langley
Kitsilano Blue Demons, Vancouver
W.J. Mouat Hawks, Abbotsford
Sir W. Churchill Bulldogs, Calgary
St. Francis Xavier Rams, Edmonton
Kelvin Clippers, Winnipeg
John Taylor Pipers, Winnipeg
Kelowna Owls, Kelowna