Owls Take Home Ken Wright Trophy



Source:  kelownanow.com

Sprinting to a 22-12 first-quarter lead in the tournament final in Langley, the Owls stayed ahead of the No. 3-seed Tamanawis Wildcats of Surrey the entire 40 minutes en route to an 87-72 victory, the B.C. School Sports provincial blue banner and the Ken Wright Trophy.

Boasting a record of 23-0 against B.C. teams, 27-0 against Canadian teams and a 31-4 overall record, the Owls are also the first B.C. Interior team to win the title since the Duchess Park Condors of Prince George in 1980.

Grant Shephard, the 6-foot-9 tournament MVP, saved what he thought might have been his best game of the season for the final game of the season, scoring 31 points and pulling down a sparkling 22 rebounds.

Colin McGrath came off the bench to hit five three-pointers and 19 points, while first-team all-star, Parker Simson, also selected as the best defensive player in the four-day provincial tournament at the Langley Events Centre, added 15 points and seven assists. Grade 11, Mason Bourcier, joined the ranks of double-digit efforts with 11 points.

Shephard, still with another year of high school basketball ahead of him, said that despite scoring an average of 14 points and grabbing 12 rebounds per game in the first three tournament encounters, he felt he had to “bring it” in the title match in front of about 4,400 fans at the LEC.

“I wanted to make sure that I was at my best . . . I needed to be for the team, especially for the guys who were playing their last game,” said Shephard, named the player of the game in the final. “And when we got out on the floor in front of all those people — most of them cheering for Tamanawis — it really got me going. Things couldn’t have worked out better.”

Mason Bourcier of the Owls was selected as a provincial tournament second-team all-star.
Fellow Grade 11, Mason Bourcier, who along with Shephard and 6-foot-9 Owen Keyes, will anchor the 2016-17 KSS team, said he and his teammates received an early lift from Shephard’s play.

“Grant tends to ease into games and gains momentum as it goes on, but he really came out with a lot of intensity right from the get-go tonight. He was all over the court doing so many good things, especially rebounding,” said the 16-year-old tournament second-team all-star.

“And when you’ve got a big man like that playing so well and the other team having to respect him so much, it opens things up for the guards and makes our game a lot easier.”

Colin McGrath his five threes on the way to a 19-point championship game at the Langley Events Centre.
Bourcier, while savouring the “crazy feeling” of the historial victory, said he sees no reason why the Owls can’t challenge for another provincial win next season.

“We’ve got a good core coming back and some good talent coming up from junior, so now that we know what it takes to win (a championship), if we work as hard as we did this year, I really believe we can be right back here in the same position next year.”

But of course the Owls are graduating six players, including Simson, McGrath, Nav Sandhu, Davide Ciancio, Matt Lafontaine and Darren Hait.

The Owls’ Parker Simson was selected to the tournament first all-star team and named the best defensive player.
Simson, headed to the University of B.C.Thunderbirds to play both basketball and football, said he hopes next year’s Owls can repeat. He only hopes the team can have as much fun as he and his teammates had this season.

Part of the fun was buying into coach Harry Parmar’s defence-first philosophy.

“We found fun in going crazy on defence and using all our energy because you know when you get tired you can just get a sub,” said Simson, referring specifically to supper subs Davide and McGrath. “I trust the guys coming in just as much as I trust myself. They’re my brothers.”

Part of the large Kelowna contingent on hand to witness history on Saturday in Langley.
While the Owls boasted a deep and multi-faceted offence, it was their defence that drew much attention by not only their opponents, but by many veterans of provincial 3A and 4A provincial tournaments in the past.

“The way they play defence is at a higher level than any high school team I have seen in a long time,” B.C. High School Boys Basketball Association president Paul Eberhardt, told longtime Province reporter Howard Tsumura. “They are relentless. They pressure the ball constantly. They rotate constantly. It was a college-level defence.”

And while the KSS defensive game was superior to the opposition, it was raised yet another notch at any sign of a threat.

Kelowna Owls’ parents like what they saw down the stretch on Saturday.
In Friday’s semifinal against bronze medalist Walnut Grove Gators of Langley, the Owls trailed early in fourth quarter, but they found a higher gear on D and came back to cruise to the win.

On Saturday, the Tamanawis outscored the Owls 23-14 in the third quarter to get to within seven points — with the support of a noisy pro-Wildcats crowd. Again it was the KSS defence that stemmed the tide.

“That whole second half we kind of had them on the ropes. We were cutting it, cutting it, cutting it. But they’re full of Grade 12 players and their experience showed, especially on defence” said Wildcats’ coach Mike McKay.

Mason Bourcier and Kelowna Owls’ coach Harry Parmar share a special moment seconds before the final buzzer.
One of the Grade 12s, Matt Lafontaine, said the team’s defence was the part of the game the Owls could rely on when there was any kind of a letdown.

“You never want negatives to creep into your game, but it happens,” admitted Lafontaine, a TELUS scholarship winner headed to the UBC Okanagan Heat next season. “When it did, we just tightened up the defence and it would keep us positive and change the momentum.”

Parmar, selected as the coach of the tournament, said that while he’s alway preached defence first, it took a special group to take it to the new level.

“Basically, defence takes a lot more work than offence, and these guys never stopped working hard. What you saw this week is a just reward for an outstanding group. I can’t say enough about the way they prepared and played all season long.”