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BasketBlog: Live from the Snowball final

Kelowna centre Braxston Bunce (25) battles through some physical defence from St. Andrew
Kelowna centre Braxston Bunce (25) battles through some physical defence from St. Andrew's Kalusha Ndoumbe Ngollo (30) to hoist a shot in the paint during the Snowball championship game on Saturday.
— image credit: John Morrow

The Snowball Classic senior boys basketball tourney at Abbotsford Collegiate culminates with the gold medal game on Saturday evening. Abbotsford News sports editor Dan Kinvig will be posting live updates to this page throughout the game.

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10:05 p.m. – I had a chance to chat briefly with both coaches – Harry Parmar of Kelowna, and Mike Hart of St. Andrew's.

Parmar pointed out that the Owls' downfall was the number of offensive boards they surrendered. St. Andrew's simply wore them down.

"We got humbled," Parmar said, noting that his team had won 15 straight games coming in.

Hart couldn't say enough good things about the tournament, and he had some high praise for the Owls: "We beat a phenomenal team tonight."

Of the match-up at centre between tournament MVP Cedric Kuakamensah and Kelowna's Braxston Bunce – future Ivy League opponents – Hart dropped this nugget: "When they're 28 years old, they'll both be millionaires." Projecting both players to reach the NBA might be a tad optimistic, but give Hart credit for a colourful quote.

Stat-wise, Kelowna's Mitch Goodwin was heroic in defeat, racking up 24 points. Bunce chipped in with 11.

Saints power forward Bonzi Colson scored a game-high 25, while teammates Tom Garrick (18) and Henry Bolton (11) also scored in double figures. Kuakamensah managed a modest eight points, but he's the MVP because of his five blocked shots, and general dominance in the paint at both ends.

That's it for the BasketBlog tonight. We'll have more Snowball wrap-up coverage arriving at abbynews.com over the next couple of days. Hope you enjoyed reading.

*****

10:00 p.m. – The tournament all-stars are as follows:

2nd team

Cam Friesen, W.J. Mouat

Bradyn Smith, St. George's

Luka Zaharijevic, Kitsilano

Lucas Mannes, G.W. Graham

Tom Garrick, St. Andrew's

1st team

Adam Hildebrand, St. George's

Braxston Bunce, Kelowna

Mitch Goodwin, Kelowna

Henry Bolton, St. Andrew's

Bonzi Colson, St. Andrew's

MVP – Cedric Kuakamensah, St. Andrews

Friesen, Mouat's senior power forward, also won the Abbotsford News award, which recognizes the most outstanding player at the Snowball from Abbotsford.

*****

9:39 p.m. – Kelowna hung with St. Andrew's for the better part of three quarters, but in the end, the visitors from Rhode Island were just too tough. They just kept pounding away with their size and depth in the post, supplemented by deadly three-point shooting, and won the Snowball title by a score of 77-55.

Stats and all-stars to come.

*****

9:31 p.m. – Another blocked shot for St. Andrew's centre Cedrick Kuakamensah. This is a recording.

The Saints are going to win this ball game – they're up 73-51 with 3:08 left in the fourth quarter.

*****

9:22 p.m. – St. Andrew's is putting this game to bed. The Saints simply have too many weapons – lately, the equation that's been most effective has been point guard Henry Bolton feeding shooting guard Tom Garrick for a variety of three-pointers and layups.

With seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, St. Andrew's leads 67-49.

*****

9:14 p.m. – Through three quarters, St. Andrew's leads Kelowna 56-45.

*****

9:08 p.m. – St. Andrew's is winning the game, but Mitch Goodwin is winning the crowd. The Kelowna point guard just came up with a dazzling play on the fast break, weaving around a Saints defender, faking a pass, and laying the ball in. The fans absolutely loved it.

But at the other end of the floor, the Saints' sophomore class is dominating. Point guard Henry Bolton nailed a couple of treys, and power forward Bonzie Colson came up with a couple of gritty putback buckets in the paint. St. Andew's leads 54-41 with two minutes left in the third quarter.

*****

9:00 p.m. – Mitch Goodwin opened the second half like he finished the first, setting up teammate Darrion Bunce for a wide-open jump shot and then finishing a fast-break layup through contact for a three-point play.

That mini-run trimmed the St. Andrew's advantage to 38-35, but Cedrick Kuakamensah took over the game at that point, scoring a pair of baskets and swatting yet another shot as the Saints boosted the lead back up to 44-35.

*****

8:54 p.m. – Halftime stat pack: Kelowna's Mitch Goodwin and St. Andrew's Bonzie Colson are tied for game-high scoring honours with 15 points apiece. Saints guard Tom Garrick is close behind, with 13.

In the battle of the Ivy League-bound big men, Owls centre Braxston Bunce has a 5-2 edge in points over his Saints counterpart Cedric Kuakamensah. But Kuakamensah has made himself conspicuous in other ways – namely, three absolutely massive blocks.

The second half will be upon us in two minutes. Buckle up.

*****

8:45 p.m. – Saints power forward Bonzie Colson was a beast in the last couple minutes of the first half. The 6'5" sophomore powered his way into the paint for a couple of nice baskets, then swatted a shot by Mitch Goodwin at the defensive end.

St. Andrew's is up 38-30 at halftime, but the Owls are right there, within striking distance.

*****

8:38 p.m. – St. Andrew's just put together a 10-2 run to stretch their lead to double digits. Spearheading the spurt was Tom Garrick – the Saints ran a couple of plays to isolate him on the low block, and then he swished an extremely sweet step-back jump shot from just inside the arc.

The Saints lead 32-22 with three minutes left before halftime.

*****

8:28 p.m. – Kelowna small forward Buster Truss, his team's third offensive option and a key defender, picked up his third personal foul less than a minute into the second quarter. Truss heads to the bench, a turn of events which does not bode well for the Owls.

The St. Andrew's lead is at 22-19.

*****

8:24 p.m. – I'd be remiss not to mention that we've got a great crowd here tonight at Abby Collegiate – you could hardly shoehorn another body into the bleachers.

The good news from the fans' perspective is, Kelowna has demonstrated so far that they have what it takes to push St. Andrew's, and that bodes well for the drama factor tonight. The Saints lead 21-17 after the first quarter, but Kelowna's Mitch Goodwin is feeling it – he's already knocked down a trio of triples.

*****

8:16 p.m. – The battle in the paint between the two Ivy League-bound big men has been every bit as fascinating as I'd hoped it would be. Bunce had a couple of nice plays on the offensive end against Kuakamensah, scoring on a post move and then drawing a foul on the next possession. But a couple of trips later, Bunce went up for a hook shot, and Kuakamensah rose up and swatted it. Hard.

The ball went directly to Mitch Goodwin at the three-point line, though, and the Owls point guard swished a trey. St. Andrew's is up 14-11 with just over two minutes left in the first quarter.

*****

8:08 p.m. – Just over two minutes in, we've already had two spectacular plays. First, it was Kelowna's Mitch Goodwin pulling up on the fast break and swishing a three-pointer between two St. Andrew's defenders. Then it was Saints centre Cedrick Kaukamensah emphatically rejecting a shot by Owls forward Buster Truss.

Kelowna has an early 6-4 lead.

*****

7:56 p.m. – St. Andrew's and Kelowna have been on a collision course all tournament, and it should be a fascinating match-up. How will the Owls – B.C.'s top-ranked AAA squad – stack up against an elite American outfit?

It's hard to find a weakness in either of these teams. St. Andrew's boasts eye-popping size, with three players who stand 6'8", including Brown University recruit Cedric Kuakamensah. But they've also gotten terrific performances from their guards – Tom Garrick, in particular. Garrick scored 23 points in his team's opening-round win over the host Abby Collegiate Panthers, and 21 in the semifinals vs. St. George's – despite not playing much after halftime in those blowout victories. He's got the pole position in the race for tournament MVP.

Kelowna actually matches up reasonably well physically, with four players 6'5" or taller, led by 6'11" behemoth Braxston Bunce. He'll be an Ivy League opponent of Kuakamensah's next season – he's ticketed for Cornell University.

I think the play of point guard Mitch Goodwin will be pivotal to the Owls' fortunes. He was lights-out in the semifinals vs. Mouat, pouring in 35 points.

Tip-off is coming up next.

*****

7:45 p.m. – A fourth-quarter comeback was not to be for the W.J. Mouat Hawks, as they fell 63-48 to the St. George's Saints in the Snowball bronze medal game.

Bradyn Smith led the way for the Saints, counting 16 of his 19 points in the second half.

Mouat's Grade 10 point guard Corey Hauck had an impressive outing, draining four three-pointers en route to a team-high 13 points. Daniel Pawliuk (11 points) and Cam Friesen (eight points) also chipped in for the Hawks.

We're 10 minutes away from tip-off of the title game, St. Andrew's vs. Kelowna. Should be a beauty.

*****

7:24 p.m. – I've barely settled into my seat at The Pit, Abbotsford Collegiate's awesome old gym, and Mouat's Mack Thompson makes a play that electrifies the crowd. At the end of the third quarter of the bronze medal game vs. the St. George's Saints, Thompson's buzzer-beating heave from his own three-point line found the bottom of the net. Thompson is understandably pumped up, bouncing like Tigger all the way back to the Hawks' bench.

Mouat, though, has some work to do – they trail St. George's 53-42 heading into the final frame.

It's going to be a fun evening here at the Snowball – the gold medal game between St. Andrew's of Rhode Island and the Kelowna Owls tips off at 8 p.m. This is the place for live updates.

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