The Penticton Secondary School Lakers senior boys basketball squad have hit the courts a-running so far this season.
Saturday’s championship game of the 58th annual Okana-Qen Basketball Tournament, in Oliver, against Keremeos proved to be a measure of revenge for the Lakers.
Keremeos had earlier handed Penticton its first loss of the season and with time winding down in the fourth quarter of the championship game and the Lakers trailing, it didn’t look good for Pen High.
Although they are not a big team, Keremeos is very skilled with good shooters that helped them lead the game by as many as 16 points at one point.
Going into the fourth Keremeos was up by a dozen, 57-45.
“Our boys never seemed to give up and eventually their determination and hard work paid off and we managed to force overtime, 63-63,” said assistant coach Eron Labadie who along with head coach Raj Dhillon are at the helm this season. “With James Hill and Austin Afonso, two of our starters fouling out late in the fourth quarter, we looked to our bench to give us solid crucial minutes.”
And that they did.
Owen Labadie led the offence in the extra frame, scoring four of his game-high 29 points to help the team to a 71-68 overtime win.
“Every player on this team contributes in different ways and has an important role to play,” said coach Labadie.
Afonso, who was named tournament MVP, scored 18 in the final game and according the assistant coach also provided some tough defence as well as leadership through the tournament.
Penticton’s Jordan Moore was the energy player of the final game.
“He (Moore) came into the game at crunch time and gave us two big blocks, a rebound and a gorgeous outlet pass that led to a fast break,” said Labadie.
The Lakers opened the tournament with a 74-54 win over Summerland. Senior starting guard Afonso netted 24 points and Mason Holt contributed a “monster game” in his first since coming back from injury. He scored six points and pulled down a dozen rebounds including five on the offence.
Centre Nadar Abedel-Kerim was the player of the game with eight rebounds but, according to his coach, it was his energy and willingness to lead his team to battle that earned him the award.
The semi-final win came at the expense of Fulton Secondary who fell 85-67.
The back court duo of Labadie and Afonso controlled the tempo and provided a relentless attack. Labadie had 35 points and Afonso 27.
Aiden Danby was the energy player of the game, coming off the bench providing strong defence and spark for the team.
The league game prior to the tournament was another strong showing by the Lakers, who were up against the ninth ranked Kelowna Owls. The Lakers had to settle for a 65-63 loss.
“We battled them like crazy with a couple of chances to win, but we missed a couple of free throws. We’re trying to build a winners mentality within the group and so far the players seem to be buying into it and getting within two points of a top team is a pretty good start,” said Labadie.
Afonso had 23 points and Owen Labadie had 12.
The Lakers hosted a league match against Rutland Tuesday night (too late for deadline) and will be at Seaquam Secondary in Delta for a tournament starting Thursday.
The next home game will be a league match against Mount Boucherie at 7:45 p.m. Dec. 18 and will host a tournament Dec. 20 and 21.
Having entered eight tournaments this season, the club held a fundraiser at Rona Sunday which coach Labadie said also gave the players a chance to gel as a team and demonstrate to the community their commitment to building an exciting program to come out and watch.
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