Strong fan support for the Westsyde Whundas wasn’t enough to stop the Princess Margaret senior boys basketball team.
The Mustangs are the third best team in the Okanagan Valley after they defeated the Whundas 64-51. That win helped the Mustangs clinch a berth in the provincial championship being held in Kamloops starting March 6. Mustang coaches were nervous not just to have to defeat Whundas, who they faced and won 71-60 to start the tournament, but also overcome their loud supporters.
“To the boys credit they were mentally and physically ready to play,” said Mustangs coach Russ Reid. “We jumped out to an early lead and did not relinquish it.”
The Mustangs were put in that position after they lost to the Oliver Hornets 89-54. The Mustangs then defeated Valleyview Vikings (Kamloops) 75-55. Reid was impressed with how hard his players performed during the valleys, as they chased every loose ball and rebound. He could see they wanted to win. An area the Mustangs have been working hard on is being more efficient with half-court sets. That helped the Mustangs when other teams were making runs at them.
“Brayden Hearne was once again our most consistent offensive player,” said Reid. “He was named to the valley tournament all-star team.”
Other players stepping up offensively were Mauro Patterson, Justin Cantelon, Jarett Cantelon, Mitch Brodt and Harman Randhawa.
“Everybody finds a way to contribute on the defensive end — they love playing defence,” said Reid. “I think the other thing that cannot be understated is the team chemistry. While all of them want to perform, they love seeing their teammates succeed and the success of our team. They are loyal to each other and the concept of team.”
Conor Gahangan said the group has come together well as they are trusting each by making passes instead of going for the individual play. Harman Dhaliwal said the group enjoys watching each other on the court.
“We can do well,” said Dhaliwal of provincials. “We hope to have some upsets.”
The Mustangs open the championship against St. Michaels from Vancouver Island. They are excited about that meeting as they feel they match up with St. Michael’s as they play a similar style.
Because the championship will be a mental and physical challenge, they are aren’t looking too far ahead.
“We are now into details of our offence and defence while continuing to work on individual skills,” said Reid.
The group isn’t thinking about winning the provincials as Dhaliwal said that would be a challenge. The Hornets, who won the valley championship for the third time in four years, is looking to defend their provincial title.
“We want to be competitive in games,” said Dhaliwal.
“We just have to play our game,” said Gahangan. “We can’t worry about anything else but that.”