The Walnut Grove Gators were bronzed at the B.C. senior boys Quad A basketball championships at the Langley Events Centre.
And deservedly so.
The Gators proved they could hang with the big boys during B.C. high school hoops’ version of March Madness, held March 9 to 12.
The hometown Gators put a scare into the undefeated, top-ranked Kelowna Owls in the first of two semifinal match-ups held inside the LEC’s arena bowl on Friday night.
Ranked fifth in the province, the Gators overcame a 14-point halftime deficit by outscoring the Owls 28-10 in the third quarter, and subsequently moved ahead 59-55 heading into the final stanza.
Momentum then swung back to the Owls, who had a decided 31-12 edge in the fourth quarter to win 86-71.
The Gators rebounded nicely, however, edging Abbotsford’s W.J. Mouat Hawks 96-94 early Saturday night in a game that was tied 90-90 with roughly two minutes to play.
In Saturday’s final, played in front of 4,410 fans, the Owls put a cap on a fabulous season – one in which they went 23-0 against B.C. competition – by beating Surrey’s Tamanawis Wildcats 87-72.
Walnut Grove’s 6’8” forward Jake Cowley was named to the tournament’s first all-star team. His teammate, 6’2” forward Santhosh Nandakumar, earned provincial second all-star honours.
Kelowna’s 6’9” forward Grant Shepherd was named tournament MVP.
En route to B.C.’s Final Four, the Gators defeated Oak Bay 81-60 March 10 and West Vancouver 85-47 March 11.