Loss doesn’t diminish strong Lakers effort

Wes Van Camp described the 21-20 quarter-final loss to the Vernon Secondary School Panthers in the BC High School Okanagan Valley championships as a hard fought battle.

Kyle Patan (above) of the Penticton Secondary Lakers passes the ball off while being tackled by a Vernon Secondary Panthers defender during second half play in the boys rugby Okanagan Valley quarter-final championship match at McLaren Field this week. The Lakers lost 21-20.

Kyle Patan (above) of the Penticton Secondary Lakers passes the ball off while being tackled by a Vernon Secondary Panthers defender during second half play in the boys rugby Okanagan Valley quarter-final championship match at McLaren Field this week. The Lakers lost 21-20.

Wes Van Camp described the 21-20 quarter-final loss to the Vernon Secondary School Panthers in the BC High School Okanagan Valley championships as a hard fought battle.

The defeat to the Panthers in the first round of the Okanagan Valley Championship was a display of two teams going at each other hard. After the Lakers took a 15-14 lead in the final half, the Panthers responded to their captain firing them up with a motivational charge. That push helped them score a try then convert the kick. The Lakers replied with another try to make it 21-20, but simply ran out of time. Scoring tries for the Lakers were Wes Van Camp, Nakai Penny, Joel Tremblay and Phillip Bradley.

“They emerged the better team from that,” said Van Camp, the Lakers captain. “Not by much but that little bit counts.”

Van Camp said it was a difficult loss because of how close the game was.

“It was a fun game to play,” he said. “We played a really good game.”

Panthers coach Shaun Landry said it was a back and forth game with two evenly matched teams.

“Pen High is a very resilient team, there was no quit in them,” he said. “Like us, they were only playing with one substitute and played hard until the final whistle. The game could have gone either way. It ultimately came down to kicking. Our kicker was a perfect three for three on conversions and theirs was 0 for four. Landry added that the Lakers were their toughest opponent all year.

Van Camp felt they could have won the game but credited the Panthers for being an amazing team. He felt they were a lucky bounce away from winning.

Lakers coach Graham Vujcich was proud of the way his players performed and for sticking to the game plan.

“The wind today made it kind of two halves,” he said. “We couldn’t have given it anything else. We were just up against a very good team. Both teams ran the ball well on the backs.”

What impressed Vujcich was that his players showed heart on the field and didn’t give up. One thing that worked against the Lakers was having enough players. They didn’t have enough subs near the end of the season when they needed it most as they played a lot. Vujcich said that might have caught up to them.

From the first day to the last on Tuesday, Vujcich seen the skill level in his players improve. The players made large strides in two months and feels the future is promising.

“We have a lot of Grade 10s this year,” he added. “It’s looking good for the senior ranks for next year.”

And that is something Van Camp can’t wait for.

“I think we should be a force to be reckoned with,” he added.