The Salmon Arm Secondary senior Golds basketball team hit the court last week to open their season on a high note with a tournament victory.
Last Tuesday, the Golds played host to the Kelowna Owls in the first league game of the season. What was hoped to be a coming out for the Golds and their highly skilled team turned out to be a wake-up call instead, as the Golds were defeated by Kelowna 85 – 69.
Although the Golds led the Owls at the end of the first quarter and most of the second quarter, it was the tenacious and tough defence the Owls delivered– plus the Golds’ 24 turnovers – that cost them the game. They were forced to play off-balance at both ends of the court, shooting 39 per cent from the field and 66 per cent from the charity stripe. Defensively, they were out of sync the entire second half.
Evan Smith led SAS in that game with 16 points, while Gavin Limber put up 14 points and 11 rebounds. Jackson Mayes contributed 13 points of his own in the losing cause.
After regrouping, the Golds travelled to Kamloops to compete in the South-Kam Invitational, where they faced last year’s winner of the B.C. Boys’ AAA Provincial Championships: the host South Kamloops team. As they did on Tuesday, the Golds began the game well and went up by 20 points on the host Titans.
With better defence and more patience on offence this time, the Golds led by double digits for three quarters of the game; however, the fourth quarter was a different story. As their opponents began showing greater tenacity, the Golds found themselves struggling to hold onto their lead. At one point during the latter part of the fourth quarter, the Golds lost their lead and found themselves down by one point with little time remaining.
Able to gain some composure and find their resilience, the Golds regained the lead through some tough play of their own at both ends of the court. With some clutch free-throws by both Alton Neid and Darian Sundby, the Golds came away with a 64 – 59 victory. Although he only played the first quarter and a half, due to injury, Evan Smith led the golds with 11 points, while Daniel Wyss added 10 points of his own in the narrow victory.
In their second game of the Kamloops tournament, Salmon Arm defeated Valleyview Secondary, from Kamloops, 75 – 35. Gavin Limber led all scorers with his second double-double of the short season, with 17 points and 19 rebounds. Silas Hecker had 16 points for the Golds, while Noah Jansen recorded his first double-double of the season with 10 points and 15 rebounds.
With two victories in the tournament, Salmon Arm headed to the final game of the S-Kam Invitational against their league opponents from Kelowna: Rutland Secondary.
Both teams were undefeated in the tournament, and the stage was set for a great match. High energy and effort on defence, and better execution on offence, propelled the Golds to a 50 – 46 halftime lead against the Voo Doos.
However, the Golds struggled to find their energy to begin the second half and found themselves down 57 – 51 early in the third quarter. They were able to gain their composure and the Golds fought to retake the lead late in the third quarter and never looked back as they defeated Rutland 91 – 76 in a hard fought game.
In the end, tougher defence and balanced scoring helped the Golds to victory. Five players found themselves in double digits at the end of the final game: Gavin Limber, who was named Salmon Arm’s Player of the tournament, led the Golds with 25 points and 13 rebounds; Alton Neid had 18 points, Jackson Mayes had 14, Daniel Wyss had 13 points in the final contest, while Darian Sundby added 10 points of his own and received the Gatorade Hustle award for his consistent effort and play at both ends of the floor in the tournament.
The Golds continue their tournament play this weekend at the No Regrets Tournament, in North Vancouver. Their first game is against West Vancouver, at West Van High, on Thursday Dec. 6 at 2 p.m.
Submitted by Aaron Smith