Penticton Secondary School Lakers curling team (from left to right) Zach Kuechle, Tane Kita, Owen Manning and Keiji Kita with the Okanagan Valley Championship trophy which they won last weekend, qualifying them for the provincials. Kristi Patton/Western News Staff

Penticton Lakers curling team headed to high school provincials

Penticton Secondary School Lakers boys curling team will represent the zone at provincials

For the first time, since no one can remember, the Penticton Secondary School Lakers will be sending a curling team to provincials.

“The team curled three games each day and had great shot making and it was just a wonderful team effort,” said sponsor coach Peggy Sakamoto.

The team consisting of Tane Kita (skip) and his twin brother Keiji Kita (second), Owen Manning (third) and Zach Kuechle (lead) won five of their six Okanagan Zone curling playoffs last weekend at the Kelowna Curling Club punching their ticket to the provincials at Royal City Curling Club in New Westminster.

Related: South Okanagan curling team sweeps into BC Games

After losing their first game against Kamloops, the team poured it on to win five straight and take the Okanagan Valley Championship.

“The first game we got all our jitters out and then we started playing better and better every game. It was our first time going for the high school Valley Championship so it made us nervous. But then we were more calm and our strategy was better, our communication and we just went out having fun,” said skip Tane.

The semi finals put the Lakers team in a tough spot tied in the seventh end against Salmon Arm but their second Keiji held the hammer in the eight. As the last stone was a draw, all the sweepers chipped in to get it closer to the button.

“It was the very last stand and I came down to help Keiji and Zach sweep and we just brought it in close enough to steal the win,” said Manning. “As soon as it stopped we were jumping, we were going to the final.”

With a chance to avenge their initial loss to Kamloops at the Valley Championship, the Lakers took full advantage. The two teams butted heads in the final in another close match, but this time the Lakers came out on top beating them by one.

“We knew after that today was our day to win and get revenge on that first loss,” said Manning.

Should the Lakers win the provincial championship, they will earn the right to curl and the Canadian Under 18 Championship and represent Team B.C. at the end of March.

“I think this is the first time Penticton has ever won the Valley Championship so we are making history right now,” said Manning.

The provincials are on their sights first, taking place March 1 to 3. With the pressure of one big tournament already behind them, the team said they offer these words of advice to themselves as they go head-to-head with the best high school curlers in B.C.

“Keep our heads up and lets win this thing,” said Manning.

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