Morning Star Staff
The VSS Panthers are going to the B.C. Senior AAA Boys Basketball Championships for the second straight year.
Glenn Garvie’s crew toppled the No. 8-ranked host South Kamloops Titans 67-56 in Saturday night’s final of the Okanagan Valley playoffs.
The Panthers almost didn’t make the final as they brushed back the stubborn Sa-Hali Sabres of Kamloops 70-69 in the semifinals.
VSS was up by five points with a minute to play and due to missed foul shots and clutch baskets by Sa-Hali, the margin dwindled to only one at the final buzzer.
South Kamloops stopped the NorKam Saints 77-70 in another close semi.
The Panthers lost to South Kam in both of their regular-season games and were definitely the underdog in the Titans’ home gym.
After an early three-pointer gave South Kam the lead 3-2, the Panthers answered with a deuce to take a lead they would never relinquish.
VSS continued to build on their lead. They were up by a dozen at the half and by as much as 22 in the third quarter, playing the clock wisely down the stretch.
“It was by far the best game of the year for the Panthers and it couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Garvie. “They had beat us twice during the season and they were very confident they would win and maybe they would have on any other night.”
John Garvie drained 31 points in the final and was named the Valley MVP. Zac Kronbauer and Grade 10 Ben Hladik were named to the tournament all-star team.
There are four Grade 12 boys on the VSS roster: Garvie, Kronbauer, Ty Thomas and Spencer Shaw. They have played together since Grade 8 and have gone to four basketball provincials. The only year they did not, the Cats lost by one point on a trey at the buzzer in the Valley junior final.
“I have watched them over the years play their best game when it was absolutely necessary,” said coach Garvie. “They did it in Grade 8, beating Fulton in the Valley final when they had been beaten by them four times that season. They did it in Grade 10 when John scored 48 and we won against OKM, a team we had lost to three times. And last year when we won the semifinal game in that crazy finish where we scored 11 point in the final 20 seconds to advance to the Valley final, and then last night. They have willed themselves to victory each time.”
Four of the starters and six roster players are on the football team that has reached the B.C. semifinals three straight years.
“They are a very special group,” added Garvie. “More than their athletic ability is their character and their respect for each other. This team genuinely likes each other. If you came to a practice or any other time they are together you would be unable to determine who is in Grade 12 and who are the two Grade nines on the squad by the way they treat one another…This team had a very rare quality; they want to win but they wanted to win for each other.”
The Fulton Maroons gave up a bucket with two seconds left and lost 73-71 to the Valleyview Vikings in the Okanagan Senior AA Boys final Saturday at Valleyview in Kamloops. Fulton took on the Westsyde Whundas of Kamloops in a wildcard challenge game Tuesday night at Fulton. The winner earns a berth in the provincials, March 11-14, in Langley.
In Lumby, the Immaculata Mustangs iced the Kelowna Christian Knights 68-57 in Saturday’s final of the Valley Senior A Boys Championships. Both teams advance to provincials.
The host Charles Bloom Timberwolves bowed 90-80 to the Barriere Cougars and fell 75-41 to the Similkameen Sparks of Keremeos. Peter Ufimzeff sank five treys and finished with 35 points as the Wolves lost to Barriere. Jared Sexsmith added a dozen. Ufimzeff rang up 20 points against the Sparks.