WHAT a run it has been for the Kelowna Christian Knights!
For the sixth time in the last dozen years – which includes one season they voluntarily moved to a higher tier – the Knights are the 1A provincial basketball championships.
Kelowna Christian’s offence was unstoppable, a trend for much of the tournament as they nearly doubled their opponents, winning by an average margin of 79-42.
The fourth and final of their games came Saturday afternoon, a thorough 81-45 victory over Langley’s Credo Christian Kodiaks in the 1A Tournament title game at the BC Boys High School Basketball Championships at Langley Events Centre.
The victory was even sweeter after last year’s squad – whose offence was even more prolific – lost in the quarter-finals and placed fifth.
“This year, we had a mission to not let that happen again,” said head coach Daniel Benson. “We fought all year to get here and everyone (coaches, players, teachers, volunteers) put in extra hours.”
Kelowna Christian was coming off a sub-standard offensive performance in the semifinals the night before as they were put to the test by the No. 3 seed Chilliwack’s Highroad Academy Knights, eventually securing a 58-51 win.
In that game, the Knights shot 31 per cent from the field, a rarity for the team.
But Benson’s pre-game message was simple: “Shrug it off, that night’s behind us, just come out and play ball.”
And play ball is what his team.
Aside from being down three points to Credo Christian in the very early going, it was all Kelowna Christian as they led by 15 after one quarter, were up 27 at the half and then cruised to victory.
Kelowna Christian was good on 32 of their 75 shots from the field, a 42.7 per cent success rate. By comparison, the Kodiaks struggled mightily, connecting on just 22.4 per cent (15-for-67), including 3-for-18 from beyond the arc.
Credo Christian was also coming off an emotional semifinal victory, one which required late-game heroics and double-overtime before they finally knocked off the No. 1 Glenlyon Norfolk Gryphons of Victoria 97-88. They also needed a stunning fourth-quarter rally in the quarter-finals, outscoring their opponent 36-6 to erase a 15-point deficit.
But a third consecutive rally was not in the cards for the Kodiaks who have now placed top five in five consecutive seasons, with two silver medals, a bronze, a fourth and a fifth-place finish on their resume as they search for the school’s first provincial basketball title.
Indy Hallet, who sank four three-pointers and had 17 points, was named the Championship Player of the Game while teammates Colin Christophe – who led the Knights with 23 points – was named the Tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
Will Dykstra with 13 points and Gavin Grim with a dozen led the Kodiaks.
The Knights have now won six titles – the most in the history of the 1A tournament – with the most recent title coming in 2016 and are 6-1 in championship games. They have also medalled in eight of their 15 tournament appearances.
Benson, who was a player on the first two title-winning teams in 2008 and 2009, didn’t know if one ranked ahead of the other.
“I don’t know if one’s better than the other, they are both awesome.”
In the third-place game, it was Highroad Academy defeating Glenlyon Norfolk
The Fernie Falcons were named the Tournament’s Most Sportsmanlike Team and Glenlyon’s Chris Graham was named Best Defensive Player.
First Team All-Stars Second Team All-Stars
Chris Graham (Glenlyon Norfolk) Saul Khalifa (King David)
Aidan Morris (Highroad Academy) Elijah Grimard (Highroad Academy)
Will Dykstra (Credo Christian) Corbin Marsden (Similkameen)
Indy Hallett (Kelowna Christian) Stephan Klein (Credo Christian)
Anthony Vanderstoep (Credo Christian) Josh Flood (Kelowna Christian)