A deep and well-balanced offence proved a winning combination for the Kelowna Owls on the way to winning the Okanagan Valley junior boys basketball championship on the weekend.
The Owls won three straight games at the eight-team event, defeating the host Vernon Panthers 59-49 in the championship final. They had earned the right to play in the title game by downing the Westsyde Whundas of Kamloops 57-35 in semifinal play while opening with a 77-44 win over the Oliver Hornets.
Malcom Greggor, the most valuable player of the tournament, led the Kelowna Secondary School representatives with a 22-point performance that included five three-pointers. Braden White added 12 points for the winners, who also got a nine-point effort from Jayden Lalonde, a tournament all-star.
White and Ethan Braam both scored 12 points in leading the Owls past Westsyde in the semis, while Greggor and Lalonde each contributed nine points to the win.
Winning the Valley pennant earned the Owls a berth at the B.C. junior boys invitational tournament being held in Langley beginning on Saturday and going through to Tuesday. Vernon, the third-place Mt. Boucherie Bears and Westsyde will join KSS at the Langley Events Centre.
Owls coach, Al Lalonde, said his team’s success had much to do with a team effort, with all three games at the Valley tournament seeing different players having impactful moments.
“The junior Owls are difficult to guard as you never know which player will come forward and score,” said Lalonde, a former Owl himself. “And it was a solid team effort on defence as well, with Braden (White) leading the way guarding the opposing team’s best scorer.”
Meanwhile, the Boucherie Bears won three of four games on the weekend for third-place.
Second-place finishers to the Owls in the Central Okanagan Zone, the Bears opened with a 60-45 win over Penticton but dropped a 68-57 decision to Vernon in their second game. They bounced back to defeat Salmon Arm 71-57 and downed Westsyde 58-46 in the third-place matchup.
Ethan Williams, a tournament all-star, scored 30 points in the win over Westsyde, with Jake Semeniuk adding 12 to the Bears’ total. Against Salmon Arm, Williams came through with a spectacular 41-point performance while Semeniuk pitched in with 14 points.
The draw for the provincial championship tournament will be decided tonight, with the Owls expected to be among the top-10-seeded teams.