Updated: Mar 11, 2019
Final Four Friday was nothing short of revolutionary. With an earth-shaking win from the Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers that boosted the team to the Provincial finals for the first time in program history, to an extraordinary upset over # 3 ranked Terry Fox led by Parker Johnstone and the Kelowna Owls.
We've got your Championship game day preview below.
The semifinals at the LEC is something to admire. Fans flocked from all over BC to witness history in the first 4A game of the day on Friday, March 8th, as the # 9 Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers defeated the reigning 2018 champions, the Burnaby South Rebels. Some call it an upset; while others say the Panthers are hot on their pursuit of raising a banner in the LTSS gymnasium. Something that Coach Drew Gallacher says he's been waiting a very long time to do.
"I went into Grade 8 in 1982 to Vancouver College and they took the whole school to the BC's by bus. And from that moment on, I always wanted to be a part of something like this in my life."
Throughout the entire game, Tweeds tightened up their defence and held the Rebels to minimal points. South was missing a key piece in Sasha Vujisic, who was injured in the quarterfinals on Thursday evening. He did not play in the game against the Panthers, which may have given Tweedsmuir a confidence boost on the court.
Panthers' Arjun Samra played the game of his life, scoring 35 points and 11 rebounds. He, of course, was awarded yet another POG honour. Samra, with a smile from ear-to-ear, credited his teammates on the amazing 75-64 win over the Rebels.
"A lot of emotions going through my head right now, but I'm just thankful that I got these teammates, thankful that I got this coach, and I got to go to this school," a near speechless Samra said.
Gallacher said it best, with teary eyes and pride in his voice:
"To be here at this stage with my son and these kids who I have known since they were Grade 5...it's a dream come true.
"It's one of the greatest moments of my life."
Lord Tweedsmuir have an unlikely contention against the Kelowna Owls, who just like the Panthers, had to upset a team (Terry Fox) in order to claim a spot in the Provincial Championships, too.
However, the Owls aren't new to the big game. Just two years ago, Kelowna earned a 2nd Place title. They've been to the big stage before, now it all comes down precision and playmaking to turn that silver into gold.
Led by Coach Harry Parmar, the squad from the North traded in their wings for bionic arms this past week, as they defied all odds to make it to the top. After knocking out the Belmont Bulldogs in their first round, the Owls swooped down on the Heritage Woods Kodiaks to earn their ticket to a semifinal battle against the # 3 ranked Terry Fox Ravens--a Battle of the Birds.
While the Ravens, just like the feathered friend they are named after, had an aggressive style of play on the court, the Owls switched it up in transition and pulled off an unbelievable feat to win the game.
Fox's bigs in Cam Slaymaker and Jacob Mand seemed restless on the court; they were not moving the ball and finding the hoop as easily in this one as they had in each game leading up to it. Mand fouled out midway through the fourth quarter, which seemed to deflate the momentum for the Ravens. But he could be heard from the bench at any given moment with optimistic cheers towards his brothers on the court.
"Keep your head up, boys!"
With high hopes and chins raised up to the LEC skies, the Ravens took their last flight in the winning bracket of the tournament. K-Town ended the game with a final score of 74-67 over Terry Fox.
Player of the Game honours went to Owls' Malcom Greggor, with 15 points and 3 rebounds.
Kelowna's Parker Johnstone had a jaunty 37 points and 6 rebounds. He was absolutely elated to be going to the Championship Finals alongside his fellow Owls.
"It feels great to be in the finals, we’ve worked our butts off to get here."
Johnstone was with the same group who went to the Provincials in 2017. He says it's somewhere everyone wants to be and while he's proud of his guys for getting back in the ring, the Owls are not done yet.
"Winning provincials would mean so much to everyone who has supported us through our season. No one expected us to be here except for the people on our team. So being able to have a chance to silence the doubters means a lot.
We’re showing people what Okanagan Tough really means!"
The biggest show in BC Boys Basketball is looming around the corner. Who will take the golden banner home: the Kelowna Owls or the Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers? Game time is at 8:15pm in the Arena of the Langley Events Centre.
Check out the FIRE highlights from Final Four Friday (filmed and edited by the sensational Chris Evans) below:
Written and Photographer by: Crystal Scuor