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Jan 2015 28

Western Canada Tournament Preview

Posted in Featured, Sports

Photo courtesy of Greystoke Photography

Here is everything you need to know about the KSS Western Canada Basketball Tournament coming February 5-7, 2015

Kelowna Secondary School is pleased to be hosting the 42st Annual Interior Savings Western Canada Basketball Tournament.  This year’s tournament features eight teams who are either currently or have at one time been ranked in their provinces’ Top-10.

BC teams include the Kelowna Owls, Burnaby South Rebels, Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs, and the Cowichan Thunderbirds.

Making the trek to the Interior from Alberta are the Bishop O’Byrne Bobcats from Calgary, Harry Ainley Titans from Edmonton.  While a pair of prairie teams, the LeBoldus Golden Suns from Regina and the Oak Park Raiders from Winnipeg, round out the field.

Game 1: Thursday February 5, 2:30 pm
Bishop O’Byrne Bobcats vs. Burnaby South Rebels
The first game of this year’s tournament pits two top five ranked teams in a battle between #3 ranked Bishop O’Byrne Bobcats out of Calgary and the #4 ranked Burnaby South Rebels.

Bishop O’Byrne Bobcats
Style of Play: According to Bobcat coach Kurt Luttmerding, the Bobcat mantra is “Attack, attack, attack!” The Bobcats play an up-tempo style all the time and are known for their aggressive man to man defense.
Strengths: Transition game, both defensive and offensive. The Bobcats rely on their potent fast break for easy hoops and opportunities.

Key Players:
Bishop O’Byrne will be relying heavily on the one-two punch of small forward Dylan Cline and point guard Liam Burke. Cline, a senior averaging 22 point and 5 boards per game is perhaps the best 3-point shooter in Calgary. He has rounded out his game to include a solid ability to take the ball to the hoop. Burnaby South will have to key on Cline if they hope to control the game. Complimenting Cline’s outside touch is physical senior point guard Liam Burke (17 points and 7 rebounds per game). Burke’s explosive quickness to the hoop and physical strength create scoring for others. He will pose a problem for any team not willing to play top-notch defense.

Burnaby South Rebels
Style of Play: Coach David Smith has strong East Coast basketball roots and his Burnaby South Rebels are an athletic group who prefer to play at a fast pace. Yet, they are also quite comfortable slowing it down and breaking set defenses down with penetration and passing.
Strengths: For the Rebels, guard play is a definite strength, but they also have capable forwards up front. Multiple players can both pound down low or step outside and hit shots.

Key Players:
To say the Rebels are talented may be an understatement. Lead by super-guard Jemaine Haley, who averages 35 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists per game, Burnaby South has a weapon that most programs could only dream of. Haley is a highly skilled player who can play anywhere on the court. And at 6’7″, no wonder some of the top Division 1 American programs have come calling. Complimenting Haley is senior guard Tyus Batiste (21 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists per game). Batiste is a quick and athletic guard who fearlessly attacks the rim and can score in bunches. So far this year, he has been named an all-star in every tournament the Rebel have played. Throw in senior defensive stopper E.J. Mabone (14 point and 5 rebounds per game), and the Rebels have a serious shot at winning this tournament.

Game 2: Thursday February 5, 4:15 pm
Oak Park Raiders vs. Harry Ainley Titans
Number two in Manitoba versus number two in Alberta. Need we say more? Do not leave your seat. This game is sure to please everyone, except the losers.

Oak Park Raiders
Style of Play: Coach Jon Lundgren brought the Raiders to Kelowna last year and played a run and gun style that saw them experience some success. But this is a different year. Look for Oak Park to slow things down and pound the ball inside.
Strengths: Oak Park’s strength lies in the paint and their ability to play as a team and share the ball.

Key Players:
Leading the Raider attack is versatile point guard William Sesay (19 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 assists). Sesay’s court vision and rebounding ability are outstanding. He possesses that competitive spirit and can always be relied upon to score important points. Senior guard Nik Zorcic (22 points and 4 rebounds per game) is the principle recipient of Sesay’s generosity. Zorcic is an explosive scorer who can stretch defenses with his 3 point range.

Harry Ainley Titans
Style of Play:  Coach George Hoyt brings a talented group to Westerns again this year. The Titans like to play an up-tempo style of game. Their first look is always to get easy hoops in transition. Defensively they try and put pressure on the ball from baseline to baseline taking away the space of the offensive team.
Strengths: The Titans have a decently sized and very athletic starting five with multiple players that can score in double digits. Their key players create matchup problems in multiple positions and because of the attention they draw, their teammates get good looks to score. The Titans pride themselves in their defense on and off the ball.

Key Players:
The Harry Ainley Titans are lead by a dynamic duo of guards who can score in bunches and keep opposing defenses constantly stressed. Senior guard Awak Piom (21 points and 7 rebounds per game) is a strong guard with great athleticism and a long range jump shot. He can hurt teams by getting to the rim, with mid-range pull ups and deep threes. He is also the first guy to hit the floor for a loose ball. As a three year varsity player, he will do whatever it takes to win the big game. Alongside Piom is power guard Aher Uguak (23 points and 9 rebounds per game). At 6’6″ and 210 pounds, he cuts an imposing figure. Uguak is a fantastic guard with powerful finishing ability around the rim and a decent long range game to keep defenders honest. He has the ability to defend any position on the floor from a point guard to a center which makes him a real asset to the Titan lineup. He also plays any position on the offensive side of the floor, including point which creates major matchup problems for opposing teams.

Game 3: Thursday, February 5, 6:00 pm
LeBoldus Golden Suns vs. Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs
Do not go anywhere. Game 3 sees the #1 ranked Golden Suns take on the #5 ranked Bulldog squad for a coveted semifinal berth at Westerns.

LeBoldus Golden Suns
Style of Play: The Golden Suns’ resume reads as such: defending Regina city champions, two time defending Saskatchewan provincial champions, two time defending Bedford Road Invitational Tournament champions, four returning starters from last year’s team, and a great core of young players from our two-time defending junior city champions. This might be the best team to every visit Westerns from Saskatchewan. You could sum up their style of play as VERY GOOD.
Strengths: Coach Wade Bartlett brings a very balanced team to Kelowna. They have a nice combination of bigs and smalls, which can compete both inside and outside.

Key Players:
The LeBoldus Golden Suns are lead by multi-sport talent Chan DeCiman (16 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists). DeCiman is a three year starter for LeBoldus, a former provincial team member and exhibits great leadership skill. He can attack of the dribble and shoot the three, leads the team in assists and is a great defender. This year, DeCiman was a tournament all-star at the BRIT, following up last year’s tournament MVP. In addition, Chan has won three provincial football titles and he is looking to win his third provincial basketball title. Right beside DeCiman in the Golden Suns attack is power forward Carter Millar (22 points and 8 rebounds per game).  Millar is the team’s leading scorer and rebounder and is a two year starter. For a big man, Millar has great hands and moves with the ease of a smaller player.  Last summer he was a member of the Saskatchewan provincial team and was selected as a second team all-star at Nationals.  Millar has been an MVP of both the Balfour Classic and the Bedford Road Invitational Tournament.

Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs
Style of Play: The faster the better.  The Bulldogs like to get up and down the floor and enjoy playing an open and up-tempo game whenever possible.
Strengths: Bulldog coach Rick Lopez relies on his team’s depth and experience.  They return a number of key players from last year’s team.  Their versatility lies in that they can play various styles when necessary.

Key Players:
A trio of highly skilled players creates match-up problems for any opposing team. Senior guard Gary Minhas (14 points and 7 rebounds per game) is a dynamic 2-guard who has the ability to score in various ways – from outside the 3 point line or from relentlessly attacking the rim.  He is the leader of the Bulldog team and provides the spark that sets the tone for everyone. Grade 11 forward Harry Liu (17 points and 8 rebounds) is forward who has the rare ability to step out and play as guard.  He is one of the better 3-point shooters on the team and has the ability to hurt you from the perimeter or score from inside with his post moves.  He is also one of the best passing Bulldogs and is a very unselfish player looking to always make the extra pass. Rounding out the Bulldog top three is grade 11 point guard Lambert Pajayon (16 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists). Pajayon Churchill’s point guard and sets the table for the entire team.  He has unbelievable court vision and is always looking to set his teammates up for an easy score.  He can also score when needed and is not afraid to attack the rim.  Pajayon was the MVP of the BC Provincial team that won the Western Canadian tournament this past summer.

Game 4: Thursday February 5, 8:15 pm
Cowichan Thunderbirds vs. Kelowna Owls
The 2015 Interior Savings Western Basketball Tournament finishes day one with a tilt between the hometown Kelowna Owls and the Cowichan Thunderbirds from Duncan.  The Owls come in as the #9 ranked team in BC after being as high as #5, and the Rebels will be looking to represent Island basketball well after being in the BC top 10.  No game at Westerns is ever easy, and nothing can be taken for granted.

Cowichan Thunderbirds
Style of Play: Coach Sandeep Herr brings a balanced attack to Westerns. The Thunderbirds will look for both offensive and defensive opportunities when they arise.
Strengths: The Thunderbirds are a cohesive unit, that uses their basketball smarts and skills to outlast their opponents.

KELOWNA OWLS
Style of Play: Up tempo, offence from defense
Strengths: Balanced scoring

The Owls are lead by a balanced and talented group of young players. Many of these players cut their teeth playing big minutes last year, including at the pressure cooker that is Westerns.   Coach Harry Parmar sees this team as one with excellent potential and the ability to make waves here in Kelowna and also provincially. This group is motivated to write their names into Owl history by being the team to break the 33-year drought at Westerns.


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