With a committed group of players who love the game, the Mt. Boucherie Bears already have a leg up on many of their opponents.
Add in some pure talent, along with the coaching acumen of Kelly Broderick, and it comes as no surprise that the West Kelowna school is back in mix as one of B.C.’s most competitive basketball programs.
This week, the Bears were the ranked ninth in the province among senior boys’ 4A teams.
“These kids work hard on the court and they’re nice to be around off he court, fun to be with,” said Broderick. “It’s a really good group.”
In December, with just two practises under their belts, it was apparent Boucherie was going to match up well this season with the Lower Mainland’s top teams.
In addition to a win over Kitsilano, the Bears more than held their own in losses to Terry Fox, Van College, Yale and Pitt Meadows.
This weekend, the Bears will be tested at the Pitt Meadows tournament, then the following weekend will be at Collingwood where a number of top 10 teams are entered.
This is the fifth time in Broderick’s 10 seasons at the helm that the Bears have broken into the top 10.
The Bears are led by guard Jeff Tubbs and forward Quincy Johnson, both members of the Team B.C. program.
“The experience those two guys get at the national level is really beneficial for us, it shows on the court,” Broderick. “They’re in the gym every morning, getting shots…they love the game and play a lot.”
Broderick said Grade 12 guard Kache Kopec is coming into his own and is a threat to score 20 points on any given night.
“He’s made the turn with his game and can really get to the rim,” Broderick said.
Broderick also points senior forward Braden Koop and Grade 11 guard Treyton Waardenberg as key players in Boucherie’s rise up the rankings this season.
As is often the case, the Bears’ potential path to the provincials will include having to get past the rival KSS Owls, this week the No. 5-ranked team in the province.
The two teams will square off twice over the final weeks of the regular season then, barring any major upsets, the Owls and Bears will meet once again in the valley final in late February.
Still, even with what seems inevitable, Broderick said his Bears are taking the season quarter by quarter, game by game.
“That’s the thing, it’s a step at a time for us,” said Broderick. “You have to go through this journey, individually and collectively. Our defense is starting to come, we’re going to add in some new wrinkles, be dedicated to what we’re doing and work to get to the next level.”
Unfortunately, for Okanagan basketball, only one team from the valley will advance to the boys 4A provincials.
Broderick and many others here would like to see the door opened to more teams, including two from the valley—but so far that has yet to happen.
At the very least, Broderick would like to see a wild card game made available for the second-place valley finisher.
“If you’ve proven yourself (to be among the best) and you can compete, then why not, why shouldn’t you be allowed to compete at provincials,” he said.
“The people who make those decisions don’t want to expand the tournament, so for now we have to live with that.”
The Bears and Owls will square off next Tuesday at Mt. Boucherie in a 7:45 p.m. tip off.