Like the rest of the province learned throughout the season, the Tamanawis Wildcats discovered there was no way to keep up to the Kelowna Owls.
The Wildcats lost 87-72 to the Owls in the championship game of the B.C. Senior 4A boys high school basketball tournament Saturday night at the Langley Events Centre.
Kelowna led from start to finish, and with the exception of a third-quarter rally by Tamanawis, were never challenged.
The Owls, winners of all 23 games played against B.C. opposition this season, scored the first seven points of the game and sprinted to a 22-12 lead after the first quarter. Kelowna stretched the advantage to 35-15 early in the second quarter and led by 16 at the half.
After making some adjustments at halftime, Tamanawis outscored the Owls 23-14 in the third quarter to cut the difference to seven points, but it was as close as they would come.
“We missed a couple of easy buckets early and that rattled some of our guys. They missed some shots then jogged back on defense, so (Kelowna) got up on us early,” said Wildcats head coach Mike McKay. “We got it down to seven, then they hit two or three three-pointers in a row and we didn’t answer.
Even in defeat, the Tamanawis Wildcats made a bit of history at the tournament, as they became the first public school from the Surrey district to reach the final since the North Surrey Spartans in 1983.
“Absolutely,” answered McKay when asked if the Wildcats were proud of the accomplishment, adding the team is poised for another run next year.
“I think the guys will be a little angry about tonight. They’ll get back to training and we’ll see if we can make another run next year.”
Only four players on the Wildcats roster are in Grade 12, including forward Gary Sahota and second-team all-star Sagar Dulay. Both players scored 16 points in Saturday’s championship game.
Among the returnees are Grade 10 point guard and first team all-star Miguel Tomley, who led Tamanawis Saturday with 26 points and 13 rebounds, six-foot-six Grade 11 forward Gurman Bhangu and six-foot-four Grade 11 guard Fanta Lado.
Three other Surrey schools were also in the 16-team field at the provincial championship tournament.
Panorama Ridge edged the Holy Cross Crusaders 74-73 Saturday afternoon to place seventh, leaving the Crusaders in eighth place.
The Thunder pulled off what some observers said was the biggest upset in tournament history Wednesday afternoon. Seeded 15th, Panorama Ridge knocked off the second-seed Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs 64-54.
Harsiman Bhullar with 17 points, Herman Sahota with 14 and Chuks Udevi with 12 paced the Thunder, who won two of four games at the tournament.
The ninth-seed Crusaders also reached the quarterfinal stage until they were knocked out of championship contention with a 92-64 loss to the Owls.
The 11th-seed North Surrey Spartans were the fourth Surrey team in the tournament, losing in the first round 62-50 to the Kitsilano Blue Demons. The Spartans then won two of three consolation games.
The four Surrey teams to qualify for a provincial tournament at the highest level is most ever in the 71 years of the B.C. championships.
“In the last four or five years, it’s really starting to pick up,” said McKay. “For along time, there were a lot of transient students going from school to school and coaches not staying in one place. Now you’ve got (coaches) like Ed Lefurgy at Semiahmoo, Raj Bagry at Tweedsmuir, and Murray (McDonald) is back at North Surrey. So I think Surrey basketball is on the rise.”
n The Pacific Academy Breakers and Delview Raiders qualified for the provincial championship in the Senior AA category. Neither school placed in the top nine, but Daniel Adediran of Pacific Academy won the Best Defensive Player award.
The Breakers won one of three games, the lone win on the second day, a 75-70 victory over the Westsyde Whundas of Kamloops. Adediran had a double-double in the win, scoring 36 points and adding a dozen rebounds.
Delview won two of four games, including a 70-64 decision over the Breakers Saturday afternoon. The Raiders also defeated the Kelly Road Roadrunners 77-69 on Thursday.