Lakers confident they can win Valley title

Will the yellow man who banged the garbage lid during a Lakers volleyball game reappear?

Mitch Jacobsen needs to be strong during the AAA Okanagan Valley championships for the Pen High Lakers to have a chance to advance to provincials. The tournament at Pen High starts Thursday.

Mitch Jacobsen needs to be strong during the AAA Okanagan Valley championships for the Pen High Lakers to have a chance to advance to provincials. The tournament at Pen High starts Thursday.

Will the yellow man who banged the garbage lid during a Lakers volleyball game reappear?

With the Penticton Lakers senior boys basketball team hosting the 2011 AAA Okanagan zone championship Thursday, Jordan Findlay hopes they get massive support during the three-day tournament.

“It will be great having fans with us. We want people out,” said Findlay. “It will be a big lift. It will be great for team atmosphere.”

It’s a lift that could be huge for the Lakers who are without Joel Moorman and Mitch Jacobsen, whose ankle was tweaked during practise.

“He’s the guy that pulls down double digit rebounds,” said Hyde of Jacobsen. “He scores in double digits every night.  He’s the big threat defensively.”

The good news is that Jacobsen expects to play some minutes. There is belief they can go to provincials, but they have to win this tournament.

Laker Jordan Findlay feels if the group plays as a team, they have a chance and having home court advantage is huge.

“We always play well at home,” he said.

And some opponents likely gave the Lakers an early edge without knowing.

“Other teams have told us playing here is hard,” said Findlay, noting the position of the hoop is deceptive. “We can’t have mental lapses.”

One of the keys to success is chemistry and it’s developing at the right time.

Findlay is in his final season is excited about the championship because it’s the “final culmination, one tournament to keep it going.”

“It’s going to be great,” he smiled.

And Jacobsen shares Findlay’s excitement.

“I think we are underrated,” he said. “We haven’t played to our potential all year. I think we can do some damage.”

To him, strength lies in size. They have nine players, six-feet-tall or more and Jacobsen is the king of the height department at six-feet-eight. He uses it well to grab rebounds and was an unstoppable force driving to the basket in a recent game against the NorKam Saints.

“We have had some ups and downs,” said Jacobson, 17, who will play for the UBC Thunderbirds next fall.

Along with the Lakers (No. 3), the tournament will feature No.1  ranked Kelowna Owls, No. 2 South Kamlooops, No. 4  Mt. Boucherie, No.5 Rutland and No.6 Norkam.

Jacobsen feels that South Kamloops is one of the best teams, which includes Dave Wagner, his potential future teammate.

The friendly giant said the key to any Laker success will come from rebounding and strong defence. Offensively, along with Jacobsen, the Lakers have been led by Derek Wolf, Travis Petersen and before his season-ending injury, Joel Moorman.

“Travis Petersen is one of the better players, very competitive,” said Jacobsen. “Joel is a huge loss for us. He will be successful at the next level. Brodey is extremely underrated. He is full of potential and our bench is important.”

Hyde feels that his team is preparing well for their biggest games of the season with intense practises. One thing he does like entering the Valley championship is their schedule.

“We have a very favourable draw,” said Hyde.

The Lakers open the championship with a game against NorKam at 7:45 p.m.

“We match up quite well against North Kamloops,” said Hyde, who likes that his players are competing with more passion on the court. “Guys know we’re competitive. Put together 40 good minutes and we can compete with anybody.”

The other matchups feature Mt. Boucherie (No. 4) versus Rutland (No.5). On Friday, (No. 2) South Kamloops will face the highest seed while No. 1 Kelowna Owls faces the lower seed. The winner advances to provincials in Langley from March 15 to 19.

On Friday, games are at 6 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. and the same on Saturday.