Okanagan Mission Secondary School's Grade 8 were down in South Surrey on the weekend representing Kelowna at the 2019 Provincial Invitational hosted by the Semiahmoo Secondary School.
It was the first time OKM has sent a team to this tournament in 10 years. Coaches Kirsten Mulleny, an English teacher at OKM, and Bruce Mckay, the principal, had made it an early-season goal for the school to take part in the event. They secured a spot after winning the city championship.
The Huskies had a tough first game match-up against an undefeated Enver Creek Cougars, led by the 6’5" center, Gurshan Sran, who scored 32 points in the game. OKM battled and kept the score close, led by David Mulleny, who had 17 points. Ben Herbert managed 11 points and five assists, while Justin Andruchow contributed another 11 points.
At half, the score was 31-24, with Justin Andruchow and Gurlaghan Sandar doing a great job of limiting the scoring of Enver Creek’s dominant center, but a strong fourth quarter saw Enver Creek increase their lead and win by a score of 62-45.
The next game against Monterey Storm was never in doubt as the OKM Huskies won the game 71-25 and earned a berth in the B-side semifinals. Strong play from Alex Dye and Ian Wright pushed the Huskies to a dominant win.
In the semifinal, OKM faced a tough matchup against the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs. This game was a back and forth affair with OKM leading slightly for most of the game. David Mulleny was named player of the game with his tenacious defence and hard-driving play. Andruchow also had a standout game getting a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, helping the team to a 52-41 win to make it to the B finals.
In the B side final, OKM met the always tough Walnut Grove Gators of Langley who came out hard and built up an early first-quarter lead of 14 points, but by half time, the Huskies battled back to be within eight points (28-20) at halftime.
Ryan Dekleva had a very strong defensive game, coming up with eight rebounds and creating lots of ball pressure on Walnut Groves guards. Point guard Ben Herbert led the team in points this game and received player-of-the-game recognition for his 25 points, five rebounds and three assists. He was able to overcome the full-court press that Walnut Grove applied all game.
The Huskies got within two points with two minutes left (48-46), however, it was Walnut Grove winning the final 56-50.
When asked what the Huskies head coach thought after the game, she had this to say:
"The boys played outstanding. They did everything we asked of them and more, rising to the challenge of high-level basketball with intensity and passion. I am so proud of the way they carried themselves and represented the Okanagan with class. These players have a bright future of basketball ahead of them."