The Salmon Arm Senior Golds Basketball Team travelled east of the Rockies on the weekend of Dec. 21-22 and competed in the 37th Annual Jasper Place Rebel Invitational Tournament, in Edmonton, Alta.
Before the Golds competed, they flew into Edmonton and played an exhibition game against the Archbishop MacDonald Lions from Central Edmonton. Travel-weary and lacking energy, the Golds started their exhibition game slowly and found themselves behind early in the first quarter 19-4. But they began to control the tempo of the game and eventually won the contest 93-52.
The Golds made a total of 359 passes in the game, providing the opportunities they needed to be successful. Silas Hecker led the Golds with 20 points.
The tournament itself kicked off on the morning of Thursday, Dec. 20, with the opening ceremonies in front of Jasper’s large student body.
To end the opening ceremonies, eight senior athletes from various teams competed in a slam-dunk contest. The Golds kicked off the tournament on the senior side with a win over the highly-ranked Ross Sheppard T-Birds from Edmonton.
Although the first half was close and the two teams sparred with each other, the Golds’ defence continued to improve as the game went on and the Golds continued to do a great job sharing the ball, defeating the T-Birds 75-52.
Evan Smith led all scorers with 24 points, while Alton Neid had 12 points and Daniel Wyss added 10 points of his own.
In Salmon Arm’s second game of the tournament, the Golds faced the Cathedral Gaels, a sharp-shooting Ontario team from Hamilton.
Finding themselves down early, the Golds found it difficult to match the Gaels’ toughness and level of competition. Hitting 22 of their 48 three-point attempts, Cathedral defeated the Golds 119 – 69. Gavin Limber led the Golds with 22 points and Silas Hecker had 10 points.
Humbled, but not broken, the Golds faced their valley and league rivals, the Kelowna Owls, in their third game of the tournament.
In a game that was close for the first half, the Golds were able to keep pace with the Owls. It wasn’t until the mid-point of the third quarter that the Owls’ pressure got to the Golds. In a two-minute meltdown by the Golds, the Owls went on a 17-2 run, which the Golds never recovered from. In the end, KSS defeated SAS 105-82.
Although the Golds moved the ball well and shared the ball on offence with 370 total completed passes, it was the 15 turnovers by the Golds that led to easy baskets for the Owls. Once again, Gavin Limber led the Golds with 23 points, while Evan Smith had 16 points, Jackson Mayes added 14 points, and Silas Hecker chipped in 12 points of his own.
In Salmon Arm’s final game of the tournament, they faced the Semiahmoo Totems, from Surrey. The Totems, who were ranked as an honourable mention in B.C. going into the invitational, posed another tough test for Salmon Arm, as the team from Surrey is known for their fast and aggressive style of play.
However, with greater focus, more energy, and a higher level of competition, the Golds showed more toughness on defence in their final game and defeated the Totems 88-71. Evan Smith led all scorers with 20 points, Silas Hecker had 13 points, and Jackson Mayes added 10 points.
Overall, the Golds went 3-2 in the five games they played in Edmonton. In the Rebel Invitational itself, they went 2-2 and finished seventh in the 12-team senior division.
This past weekend, Dec. 22-23, the Golds were ready to host their annual Alumni Tournament. The Jewels were to play both nights at 4, while the Golds were scheduled both nights at 5:30.
– Submitted by Aaron Smith