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Since the 1970s Kelowna Secondary School has been hosting the top-ranked basketball teams from all over Western Canada. As is often the case, the host KSS Owls are not favoured to win the tournament, but fans are guaranteed of one thing: A tournament that always features the best available teams.
Don Walker has been involved in running the tournament for almost 30 years and he spoke with as the 46th Interior Savings Western Canada Basketball Tournament got underway on Thursday.
"I remember as a player travelling up from Summerland, and I was amazed that I was denied entrance because the gym was full," recalls Walker from the tournament's early days at the old KSS location. "I had never heard of that. So when I joined the staff, I thought 'this is something I've got to be a part of.'"
Walker said that when the tournament was started by former Owls coach Jack May in 1974 the idea was to bring in the best teams.
"It wasn't about building a tournament that you can win," said Walker. And that's proven true with just three tournament wins for the host Owls over that 46-year span. "Last year, of the eight teams," recalled Walker, "five of them were either in or won their provincial finals."
The Owls may not be favoured to win the tournament but a 93-72 win over Ross Sheppard of Edmonton to start the tournament raises hopes a little. "Anything can happen," said Walker.