After a great weekend at a Kelowna tournament, the Semiahmoo Thunderbirds senior boys basketball team is focused more than ever on a provincial championship.
Ranked No. 2 in the 4A provincial bracket prior to the tournament – having been knocked out of the top spot two weeks earlier by Vancouver College – the team ended up playing Vancouver College again in the final, beating them 97-83, putting them back in the No. 1 position.
The tournament started last Thursday and saw the Thunderbirds beat a No. 6-ranked team from Manitoba, John Taylor Collegiate, 108-71.
The next win was on Friday, 80-74 over Oak Bay.
“They’re a pretty big rival – we trailed most of the game but then were able to win,” said Thunderbirds coach Les Brown.
Torian Lee was tournament MVP, with Cole Bekkering named first team all-star and Marcus Flores named second team all-star.
Getting their top spot back in the provincial 4A rankings was nice, Brown noted, but he and the whole team are eyeing the big prize: the provincial trophy, or blue banner.
“The championship has never happened here – we’ve come in second three different times,” Brown said, noting one of those times was last year.
“We want to have one of those blue banners hanging in our gym. All along, that’s been our goal – to win provincials.”
First, there are (Southwest) league playoffs, hosted by Semiahmoo Feb. 15-17, then the South Fraser Zone tournament at Fleetwood Park, held Feb. 24 to March 3.
Then, qualifying teams play for the provincial title at Langley Events Centre March 9-12.
Tournament MVP Torian Lee said the Kelowna tournament was a great way for the team to spend time together, as well as play some of their toughest competition.
While he knows they still have to make it through league and zone playoffs, the ultimate provincial win remains all of their focus, he said.
“Since we were so close last year, it’s all been burning in the back of our minds,” Lee said.
“We’ve all been looking forward to the opportunity to redeem ourselves and claim the true No. 1 spot as champion of the province.”
His teammate and all-star Marcus Flores agreed.
“We came there with the goal to win the tournament – every tournament we go into, that’s our goal. That was our expectation, so we were all pretty happy,” Flores said, noting that goal still stands for the provincials.
“To win a varsity championship – I think this is finally the year that we’re going to do it – we came real close last year but now with all the experience that our guys have – this is our year.”