Spirit of Special Olympics shines through on Walnut Grove hardwood

Having fun at Walnut Grove Secondary School was a slam dunk for the Langley Warriors and Special Olympics basketball teams from across the Lower Mainland last weekend.

The Warriors were the host program of Special Olympics BC (SOBC) Langley’s inaugural January Jam.

The tournament tipped off with opening ceremonies early Saturday morning and continued through to medal presentations on Sunday afternoon.

Medals and trophies were handed out just after 4 p.m. Sunday, right after the “A” Division gold medal game was played in WGSS’s large gym.

Teams of various levels from Coquitlam, Burnaby Vancouver, Surrey, North Shore, and Abbotsford competed, joined by the Warriors A and B teams, and the Langley Warriors CeaBees 1 and 2.

Gold medalists in each division were:

A – Langley Warriors

B – Burnaby Purple Panthers

C – Vancouver Grizzlies

The Warriors “A” team continued its run of dominance at the January Jam.

The Warriors won gold at the 2014 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games in Vancouver and, in 2013, captured gold at the SOBC Summer Games in Langley.

At the national Games, the Warriors including Sean Annan, Carson Buzdegan, Chris Lawrie, Kyle Litfin, Trevin Martel, Kailyn Potomak, Tyrone Liebenberg, Alastair Singh, Andrew Wainwright, and Matthew Williams took top spot in the four-team A Division, as Special Olympics basketball debuted at a national level.

The Warriors defeated Manitoba in the championship game, in what head coach Kurc Buzdegan called “one of the most emotional games I’ve ever been involved in.”  

“This is a good team; the best team in the country and we proved that at the national games,” Warriors “A” head coach Kurc Buzdegan said. “The competition is getting better. The only way you get better is playing teams that are better than you, and that’s always a challenge for the Warriors. We’re going to see challenges, and we’re getting more push back than we’ve had before from these other teams.”

Asked if the January Jam will be an annual event, Buzdegan answered, “Oh gosh, yes.”

“It took an unbelievable amount of work from every volunteer,” he added. “We have such a wonderful group of volunteers and we’ve never hosted anything before quite, like this. We are already getting emails in, and we’re already talking about what we’re doing to do next year.”

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