Mere hours after the celebrations of the St. Thomas More Collegiate Knights junior boys team wrapped up for winning the junior boys basketball championship on Tuesday night, the gyms at the Langley Events Centre filled up again.
This week, girls basketball will be on display, with four provincial tournaments kicking off.
The junior, AA, AAA and AAAA events all began on Wednesday.
Starting off with the juniors, the 24-team tournament began with qualification games to whittle the field down to just eight teams still in the running for the title.
The OKM Huskies out of Kelowna were ranked eighth and given a first-game bye. They then battled the ninth seeded Britannia Bruins of Vancouver, where the Huskies would throttle the Bruins, 52-15 behind 38 Shae Sandhu points. That sets up a pivotal quarterfinal bout against the top ranked team in the province, the Oak Bay Breakers of Victoria. Tip off is set for 1 p.m on Thursday.
The Vernon Panthers had a more difficult journey, losing a heartbreaker in their first game to the Handsworth Royals of North Vancouver, 52-50. Luckily, they would rebound early Thursday morning to defeat the Valleyview Vikings of Kamloops 61-35.
In the AA 16-team provincial bracket, the eighth-seeded Kalamalka Lakers of Coldstream dropped their opener tothe Abbotsford Traditional Titans, 57-50, to fall to the opposite side of the bracket. They rebounded nicely on Thursday morning, powering past the Shas Ti Kelly Road Grizzlies 88-29. Next will be a matchup against Brentwood College on Friday, with the right to advance to the 9/10 placement game.
The AAA tournament saw two Vernon based team compete, the VSS Panthers and W.L Seaton Sonics. Unfortunately, Seaton would lose both their opener (80-36 to top ranked St. Michaels University School Blue Jags of Victoria) and their second match, 46-43, to the Maple Ridge Ramblers.
Vernon also dropped their first game, 51-31 to the M.E.I Eagles of Clearbrook, and followed that up with a 53-38 defeat to the Clayton Heights Nightriders of Surrey. VSS and Seaton will play each other next, on Friday morning, with the winner advancing to the 13/14 placement game.
In the AAAA division, the stage is setting up for a potential blockbuster all-Kelowna semifinal match between the Okanagan Mission Huskies and KSS Owls.
The seventh-ranked Huskies, led by NCAA division one basketball recruit Kanani Coon’s 28 points, defeated the Heritage Woods Kodiaks of Port Moody 88-47 to advance to the quarterfinals.
Meanwhile, the sixth-ranked Owls dispatched the South Delta Sun Devils handily 72-42. They will play the third-seeded, Riverside Rapids out of Port Coquitlam, last year’s runners-up.
The Huskies will play the second seeded Burnaby Central Wildcats. If both Kelowna teams win, then the two would play each other in the semifinals on Friday, with a trip to the championship on the line. If both lose, the two would still play each other, this time for the right to play in a five/six seeding game. Both teams quarterfinal matches are set for late afternoon/evening on Thursday night.