In what was a foregone conclusion, the Kelowna Owls garnered their fourth straight pennant at the Okanagan Valley senior AAA girls basketball championship on the weekend.
Somewhat surprising though was the Kelowna Secondary School team’s dominance despite playing much of the tournament without their top offensive player at less than 100% health-wise.
Even with guard Taya Hanson on the bench in their semifinal game and still sporting a sore shoulder in the title match, the Owls racked up more than 100 points in both encounters.
The Owls, 8-0 in regular-season play, and ranked No. 2 in the province, opened the Valley tournament by defeating the once-mighty Salmon Arm Jewels 101-18 in semifinal play and waltzing to a 112-31 victory over the Penticton Lakers in the championship game at Mt. Boucherie Secondary School.
The pair of lopsided wins earned the Owls another trip to the B.C. championship tournament in Langley March 1-4.
Stepping up to fill the gap left by Hanson’s less than full-out contribution was six-foot Kennedy Dickie, who led the team with 22 points in the championship game after contributing another 18 in the win over Salmon Arm.
The Grade 11 forward also grabbed a total of 13 rebounds in the two games and added 12 steals on the way to being named the tournament’s most valuable player.
“Kennedy was very focused on the weekend and really took care of all the things that put her game over the top — getting after the boards, blocking shots, stealing the ball, hitting shots including 3s, and sharing the ball with her teammates,” said Owls’ assistant coach, Heather Semeniuk. “Even though this wasn’t the toughest competition, those things need to be done to have good games and the good weekend she had.”
Semeniuk, who shares the coaching with her son, head coach Darren Semeniuk and former KSS Owls player and boys’ coach, Quentin Thiessen, added that it was encouraging — going into the 16-team provincial tournament — to see the team as a whole play with such energy after several days of layoff.
“We hadn’t played in several days and although we had been working hard in practice to be prepared for the remainder of the season, the girls were excited about getting back into game situations.
“They were energetic and focused on playing well . . . especially the seniors, although they were also a bit sad knowing these were the last games in Kelowna.”
While Dickie stood out as the MVP, the Owls also got first-team all-star performances from Hanson, Jaeli Ibbetson, Dez Day and Kasey Patchell, the latter being selected as the top defensive player of the tournament. Rachel Hare — also presented with the Okanagan academic/athletic award — was named to the second all-star team along with Kalli Doell of the Mt. Boucherie Bears.
Ibbetson (Grade 11) led the Owls against Salmon Arm, scoring 30 points, hauling in six rebounds and adding three assists. She netted another 11 points and seven boards in the title game. Day scored 11 points and added four boards and four steals in Friday’s semifinal while putting down 16 points against Penticton.
The diminutive Patchell added 14 points in Saturday’s final, while Jordan Kemper came through with one of her better all-around performances of the season, pitching in with 18 points in the semis and 17 in the final.
There was no apologizing for rolling to convincing wins in the two playoff games on the weekend.
As was the case in lopsided wins at their own tournament earlier this month, Heather Semeniuk explained that the Owls were utilizing the past weekend’s games a tune-up for the provincials.
“We really need to have our strengths playing together well so they can go down (to Langley) and be ready to play against the best in the province,” she said.
Considered the best going into the provincial tournament will be the No. 1-ranked Walnut Grove Gators of Langley, who have lost only twice this season (92-86 to Tweedsmuir and 90-78 to Abbotsford) and have won six tournaments they’ve entered.
They’ve defeated the Owls in their two tournament finals — 83-64 and 84-75.