Kelowna's Mason Bourcier leaps for a basket against Walnut Grove during the Snowball Classic final on Saturday.

Walnut Grove wins Snowball Classic

Gators defeat Kelowna 90-84 on Saturday to win 57th annual tournament

Walnut Grove Gators head coach George Bergen summed up Saturday’s Snowball Classic championship game rather eloquently moments after his team downed the Kelowna Owls 90-84.

“Is there anything better than a high school basketball game,” he asked.

Bergen and the Gators captured the school’s first-ever Snowball win, in a see-saw game to cap off the tournament.

The Gators started hot, building a 23-16 lead, but the Owls awoke in the second quarter and headed into the first half with a 48-46 lead.

“Early on our shot selection was great and we made a lot of them,” Bergen said. “We defended well and caused some turnovers. But they have a guy named Mason Bourcier, he got rolling and they went on a run in the second quarter.”

Bourcier, coming off a spectacular 52 point performance on Friday, fuelled the Owls bounce back second quarter. He scored 43 against Walnut Grove, but the Owls couldn’t handle the Gators depth and the adjustments Grove made in the third quarter.

The teams were tied at 69 after three, but Walnut Grove took over in the final frame. A clutch three by Alasdair Coyle was the dagger, and James Woods made some big free throws down the stretch to earn the win.

“Down the stretch they got into foul trouble and with our size advantage we started being able to go inside on them,” Bergen said. “I told them we weren’t going to be able to stop Mason but we have to contain him. Now, 43 points doesn’t sound like containing, but I think the guys learned a lot about helping each other defensively.”

The Gators were led offensively by Ty Rowell, who was named the most valuable player of the tournament and scored 33 points in the final.

First team tournament all-stars were: Bourcier – Kelowna, Owen Keyes – Kelowna, David Wieczorek – Kelowna, Jake Cowley – Walnut Grove and Andrew Goertzen – Walnut Grove

Second team all-stars included: Alex Garcia – Rolling Hills, Chris Koon – Rolling Hills, C.J. Campbell – Burnaby South, Vince Sunga – Burnaby South and Noah Nickel – Yale

The Gators rebounded after falling to Winston Churchill in overtime in the third place game last year. This year they defeated Brentwood College 88-80 on Thursday, and the beat Burnaby South 88-59 on Friday.

The Owls beat Yale 108-75 on Thursday, and then defeated California’s Rolling Hills Prep Academy 104-92 on Friday to reach the final. It’s the second straight year that the Owls fell in the Snowball final.

Bergen said the Snowball is always a fun stop on the yearly schedule.

“I’m an Abbotsford guy and I actually played at the Snowball in the 1960s,” he said. “Why wouldn’t I want to come back here? There are always a whole bunch of competitive teams.”

Read Wednesday’s print edition for more on the Snowball Classic.