With qualifying for the provincials behind them, the Kwalikum Kondors had one tough task left ahead of themselves to close out the Island championships: dethrone the reigning Island champion Saint Michaels University School Blue Jags.
The Blue Jags, the same high school that two time NBA MVP Steve Nash attended, have been ranked number one all season long and were looking to win back to back Island championships.
The Kondors, who beat number three ranked Lambrick Park to find themselves in the final, were looking forward to the challenge having already qualified for the provincial tournament.
The Kondors came out to play but the Blue Jags showed why they were ranked number one all season long, giving the Kondors fits with their swarming defense and once again found themselves as Island Champions with a 73-36 win over the Kondors.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” head coach Butch Gayton said. “Saint Mike’s is a good team and they had all their returning players coming back from last season, where they finished second at the provincials. It would have been nice to win the whole thing but finishing second on the Island is no small feat to look past.”
The Kondors were dealt a blow early on in the game as starting center Wylder Carson-Austin went up to block a shot and tumbled head first over the shooter, landing awkwardly on his shoulders and neck area. As the crowd gasped at the fall, Carson-Austin bounced right back up and had a bit of a smile on his face as he made his way off the court, looking no worse for wear.
“That one could have been bad,” Gayton said. “Wylder is a tough kid and to his credit, he got up right away and walked right over to the bench without any help. We kept him out of the game, for obvious reasons, but he’s been checked out and there was no damage done so he’ll be ready for provincials.”
Though it was a tough loss for the Kondors in the final, they still remain upbeat after qualifying for the provincials, which take place March 11-14 at the Langley Events Center in Langley, B.C.
The Kondors will be the number six seed in the provincial tournament, where they will take on Delview Secondary (North Delta) to kick off the provincials.
“So proud of this team,” Gayton said. “We had all these steps laid out and it’s funny, because as a coach you can lay it all out there and have these expectations to follow through on those steps but to see it actually happen, it’s a great thing to see. I’m really happy to see the team; especially our Grade 12s who had a rough go of it last season. To see them come through and lead the way for us, it’s been a great thing to see from this team all season long.”
Lucas Sposato (Grade 11) and Jesse Goring (Grade 12) were named second team tournament all-stars, while Ryan Becker (Grade 12) was named a first team tournament all-star.