Express girls take second in Winter Classic basketball tournament

Express girls finish second while boys team go winless with injury-riddled lineup during KVR Winter Classic

The fifth annual KVR Middle School Winter Classic produced different results for the host teams.

The Express girls finished second at their home tournament as they played with a shortened roster due to injuries. Against KLO in the final, the Express lost 43-22 to the Cougars. The team played hard and at one point trailed 22-18. The Express were without three post players.

The Express were led by point guard Britney Young who did a really good job of distributing the ball to teammates in an up-tempo style.

“Katie Roos and Mattie Philip were incredible in their battle and toughness as they often had to guard players bigger than them,” said boys coach Blair Haddrell. “The four Grade 7 girls playing with the Grade 8’s are proving to be very valuable members of the team as they have a good understanding of how we want the team to play basketball.”

The Express opened the tournament with a 55-17 win against Shuswap Middle School. In the semifinal, they defeated West Kelowna’s Constable Neil Bruce in overtime 35-34. The girls side featured six teams.

Playing without five players, the Express boys were unable to get a win despite their best efforts. The Express lost to the eventual runner-ups Rutland Middle School 52-23. They played two tight games Saturday losing to Constable Neil Bruce 53-50 and to Shuswap Middle School 43-41.

“Having only nine players really took its toll on the boys as they just ran out of gas in the fourth quarter versus Shuswap,” said Haddrell.

The team was led by Andre Rachinski, who averaged 25 points and 11 rebounds.  Matthew Jones and Jackson Coates stepped up in the absence of the missing players and were put in positions they had not played yet this season.

“When the team is fully stocked with all their players they have a lot of potential to be a good basketball team,” said Haddrell. “We have stressed to the boys all year that no matter the score or who we are playing we must compete the whole game, and they are starting to get it.”

KLO Middle School also won the boys side, which had eight teams.

Also playing in the tournament was the under-13 Okanagan Hoops girls team, made up mostly of students from KVR Middle School. They won one of three games, their lone victory, 52-18 against Summerland. In that game, Kayley Davis scored 18 points. Kate Coombes, Kalli Doel and Vanessa Edis contributed six points each. The team opened with a 63-33 loss to Okanagan Mission, Olivia Devito led with 10 points. In their final game, a 50-36 loss to Kelowna Christian, Davies scored 14 points and Jennifer Hayman was named player of the game.

“Jennifer had a great weekend leading the team in rebounding and playing some great defence against some much bigger opponents,” said coach Chris Terris. “Overall, it was just a terrific weekend for the girls.  For most, it was the first tournament experience and to compete so well against some good teams bodes well for the future.”