Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers celebrate their semi-final win Friday at the 4A boys basketball provincials, at Langley Events Centre. On Saturday, the team defeated the Kelowna Owls to capture a B.C. quad-A basketball title. (Paul Yates/Vancouver Sports Pictures photo)

Tweedsmuir Panthers win B.C. hoops title after second-half comeback

25-o run propels Cloverdale senior boys basketball team to championship win over Kelowna

In front of more than 4,000 people at the Langley Events Centre Saturday night, Cloverdale’s Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers pulled off a comeback for the ages.

The senior boys hoops team – which entered the tournament as the No. 9 seed – erased an 18-point second-half deficit to edge the No. 9-ranked Kelowna Owls 91-86 in the final game of the B.C. Senior Boys 4A Basketball Championships.

Lord Tweedsmuir head coach Drew Gallacher was teary-eyed following the win.

“These boys were identified in Grade 6 and ever since then, they have stayed together. They come into my classroom every day at lunch,” he said. “This is such a family to me. The parents have supported me unconditionally and they have been so incredible throughout the whole entire journey.”

After trailing for all but a minute or so through nearly three quarters of play, the Panthers – who spent time as both the province’s No. 1 team and also unranked altogether – went on a 25-0 run that started with an Alex Le bucket with 2:03 remaining in the third fame.

Tweedsmuir, which struggled at times against the Owls’ defence in the first half while also missing a few open shots, found their stride as the second half wore on, eventually opening up a seven-point lead. Kelowna pulled close in the game’s dying seconds after a back-to-back three-pointers, but the Cloverdale crew held on for the victory.

The Panthers scored 53 points in the second half, and the game overall tied a 31-year-old provincial championship record for offence, with 177 total points scored.

Tweedsmuir Grade 11 post Jackson Corneil led the offence with 23 points and 15 rebounds, despite playing much of the second half with four fouls, and Arjun Samra – fresh off a 35-point effort Friday night in the semifinals against Burnaby South – added 22.

Samra sat out the final few minutes of the first half after suffering a knee injury – on a play in which a foul was not called, much to the dismay of Gallacher, who let his feelings known to the game officials as Samra recovered and left the court. However, he returned to start the second half and was instrumental in the comeback.

His back-t0-back three-pointers gave the Panthers a 77-76 lead in the third, and he also hit a pair of free throws in the dying seconds to extend his team’s lead to five points.

Samra credited his coach for motivating them – not just during the game, but three weeks ago, after the Panthers had lost to the Holy Cross Crusaders on the same court in the Fraser Valley semifinals.

“Coach made us sit in the locker room and listen to Holy Cross cheer on the other side and he told us we are never going to feel this feeling ever again and we said ‘OK,’” said Samra, who was named tournament MVP.

And while the end result was Tweedsmuir’s first-ever provincial 4A boys hoops title – not to mention the school’s first-ever appearance in the big game – the beginning of the game was anything but smooth for the champs.

The first half was a fast-paced affair, with both teams trading baskets. But as the second quarter wore on, Kelowna – which trailed only briefly in the first quarter, and led by three by the end of the frame – picked up their defensive game, while Tweedsmuir missed a few open shots as well as four straight free throws.

The Owls continued to stretch their lead as halftime neared, and led 53-38 by the break.

Kelowna’s scoring was spread around early, too, with Malcom Greggor, Hunter Simson and Parker Johnstone each had 15 points at halftime, while Corneil had 10 to lead Tweedsmuir. Johnstone finished as the Okanagan squad’s high scorer, with 28.

Samra insisted there was no panic in his team despite their early struggles.

“We knew what we were capable of doing, we just knew we had to bring some energy and find it within ourselves,” he said.

In addition to Samra’s MVP award, Corneil and fellow Panthers Elijan Devison were named second team all-stars.

Saturday night’s provincial championship for the Cloverdale-based Panthers followed a B.C. title for the North Delta Huskies just a few hours earlier, at the triple-A level. In that game, also played at the LEC, the Huskies edged Vernon 46-44.

The Surrey-and-area title run began last week, when the South Surrey-based Semiahmoo Totems captured a senior girls triple-A provincial crown with a win over the Walnut Grove Gators.

Just Posted

Cloverdale ‘Ladies’ Night Out’ shopping event expected to draw thousands

Annual event kicks off the holiday shopping season in downtown Cloverdale

Surrey latest city to denounce Quebec’s Bill 21

The bill bans public workers from wearing religious symbols while working

Surrey RCMP say three people deported in connection to brawl caught on video

Police say they have been ‘actively engaged’ in the issue of youth fights in Newton since March

South Surrey’s A Rocha Canada an agriculture-leader finalist

Surrey Board of Trade industry event set for Nov. 21

Surrey’s tall Christmas tree to be lit at daylong festival

Ninth-annual event Satuday at Surrey Civic Plaza

Bye bye Bei Bei: Giant panda born in U.S. zoo heads to China

Panda heads back to China as part of cooperative breeding program

B.C. to advocate for frustrated, confused, unhappy cellphone users, says premier

Maple Ridge New Democrat Bob D’Eith to advocate for more affordable and transparent cellphone options

B.C. man who killed Belgian tourist near Boston Bar gets life in prison, no parole until 2042

Sean McKenzie pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of 28-year-old Amelie Christelle Sakkalis

Workers union calls strike vote in SkyTrain labour dispute

Mediated talks are scheduled to begin Nov. 28

‘Very disrespectful’: B.C. first responder irked by motorists recording collisions on cellphones

Central Cariboo Search and Rescue deputy chief challenges motorists to break the habit

Daily cannabis linked to reduction in opioid use: B.C. researchers

Researchers looked at a group of 1,152 people in Vancouver who reported substance use and chronic pain

Bids down, costs up on Highway 1, B.C. independent contractors say

Rally protests NDP government’s union-only public construction

Members of little people community applaud change to drop ‘midget’ term

‘It’s not about sensitivity,’ says Allan Redford, the president of the Little People of Canada

Most Read