BasketBlog: Live from the 2015 Snowball Classic

Live updates from the first full day of action at the Snowball Classic boys basketball tournament at Abby Senior.

W.J. Mouat and Mennonite Education Institute hit the Abby senior hardwood Thursday during the Snowball Classic

W.J. Mouat and Mennonite Education Institute hit the Abby senior hardwood Thursday during the Snowball Classic

10:05 p.m. – That’s it for the BasketBlog tonight, and for the rest of the tournament. Final stats: 4,901 words typed, 12.5 hours of basketball watched, and three cinnamon buns consumed (weak, I know).

Friday’s semifinals feature Burnaby South vs. Kelowna at 6 p.m., followed by Fairfax vs. Kitsilano at 8 p.m. The winners face off for the title at 8 p.m. on Saturday. The rest of the Snowball is going to be a blast, and I’d highly suggest heading down to Abby Senior to check it out.

*****

9:58 p.m. – Well, Fairfax succeeded in blowing our collective minds with that display of dominance. Final score is 140-50, nice round numbers. The Lions got 27 points from Donald Gipson, 21 from Loren Currie and 20 from Foster Dixson, while Jimmy Litt paced the Hawks with 13 points.

*****

9:56 p.m. – Mouat’s fans are going bonkers as Akash Masoun enters the game with just over a minute left in regulation. I’m not sure of his story, but it’s a nice moment for the kid. And then the fans crank up the volume even more as Masoun launches a jump shot. It rimmed out, but had it gone in, it might have blown the roof off this place.

*****

9:41 p.m. – Fairfax leads Mouat 110-37 at the end of the third quarter.

The silver lining for the Hawks is that no matter who else they go on to face this season, they’ll never face such withering defensive pressure and extreme athleticism again. This experience will make them better – everything else will seem easy by comparison.

And Kenan Hadzovic just authored a highlight-reel play for Mouat, nailing a three-pointer off the dribble in the face of a Fairfax opponent at the end of the third quarter.

*****

9:33 p.m. – With 4:10 remaining in the third quarter, Fairfax crossed the century mark when Jamal Hartwell crossed up a Mouat opponent and drained a midrange jumper. The Lions lead 101-29. What a team. I’m running out of superlatives.

*****

9:29 p.m. – Because alley-ooping your teammates is too easy, Fairfax’s Loren Currie lobbed the ball up to himself on the fast break and absolutely crushed a two-handed dunk.

The Lions lead 97-26 midway through the third quarter. Props to the Hawks for hanging in and battling.

*****

9:11 – Halftime score update: It’s 77-24, Fairfax leading Mouat.

*****

9:07 p.m. – The Lions have mercifully called off their shock-and-awe press, which has allowed Mouat a bit of breathing room offensively. Jass Singh, he of the seven triples vs. MEI earlier today, has shook loose to knock down a couple of shots from beyond the arc. Nevertheless, Fairfax continues to click on offence, leading the Hawks 71-20 with 2:31 left in the second quarter.

Wow.

*****

8:55 p.m – With Fairfax leading Mouat 42-6 at the end of the first quarter, I think it’s safe to declare them the best American team that Snowball organizers have imported since they started doing so roughly eight years ago.

*****

8:50 p.m. – It’s 31-2 Fairfax when the Hawks get their second bucket of the night. It’s courtesy Jimmy Litt, on a gritty drive into the paint for a nice finish.

“C’mon, pick it up Fairfax!” someone near me hollers with a chuckle.

The Lions score the next nine points to extend the lead to 40-4.

*****

8:49 p.m. – Lindsay Drew with the alley, Loren Currie with the oop. Boom, crowd goes wild. Very next possession, it’s Drew with another alley and this time Donald Gipson with the oop. And then it’s Gipson for three. And then he gets a breakaway dunk off a Mouat turnover. I can hardly keep up.

It’s 26-2 Fairfax.

*****

8:43 p.m. – Well, that escalated quickly. We’re at the 3:09 mark of the first quarter, and Fairfax is up 14-2 on Mouat. The Hawks are not having much success bringing the ball over halfcourt against the Lions’ withering full-court pressure. This team is downright scary.

*****

8:38 p.m. – Twenty seconds into the game, we’ve already got our first Fairfax dunk. Lindsey Drew, a rangy 6’3” guard whose father Larry served as head coach of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks, tipped a Mouat pass to ignite the fast break, which ended with Donald Gipson hammering down a huge two-hander. He hung on the rim for a second or two extra, and got a warning from the ref.

The fans, naturally, are loving it.

*****

8:30 p.m. – My wife would call me a basketball shoe addict; I prefer the term aficionado. Either way, I’m currently drooling over Fairfax’s custom Nikes. They’re white with red and yellow trim, and have the word Fairfax stitched on the heels. I can’t exactly tell from my vantage point, but I think they’re LeBrons.

If a pair of size 11 Fairfax shoes goes missing over the course of this tournament, you should probably just send the police straight to my house.

*****

8:19 p.m. – We’re roughly 10 minutes away from getting our first glimpse of the Fairfax Lions of Los Angeles. The Lions are making their third appearance at the Snowball, but this is the strongest team, at least on paper, that they’ve brought here – they’re ranked in the top 25 in the United States in virtually any national ranking you look at.

They’re facing Abbotsford’s W.J. Mouat Hawks, who beat MEI earlier in the day. It’s standing room only already in here, with folding chairs now ringing the court. The atmosphere is a lot of fun, with fans oohing and aahing at Fairfax’s dunks in warm-ups. If you’re not here, you’re missing out.

On another note, I’d like to direct some props to the DJ for playing Kanye’s “Touch the Sky.”

*****

8:12 p.m. – The Blue Demons led 87-79 with less than two minutes left, but Abby’s Moeiz Athaya did his best to make it interesting. He hit a three-pointer while being fouled and nailed the ensuing free throw to complete a rare four-point play, drawing his team back to within 87-83 and getting the crowd back into it.

But the Blue Demons broke the Panthers’ press on the next possession, and Kenya Gerald got down the floor for an and-one layup. That was the beginning of the end for the Panthers, as the Blue Demons were efficient from the free throw line and polished off a 92-85 victory.

What a great game it was, though – the best of the day so far. Gerald finished with 24 points for Kits, while Abby’s Chase Claypool was frequently spectacular en route to a game-high 34 points.

*****

7:59 p.m. – Kitsilano’s Alec Bayne can flat-out shoot the ball, and the Panthers discovered that the hard way. Bayne just hit a pair of triples to sandwich a floater in the lane by McCoy Lum. That’s an 8-0 run for the Blue Demons, who lead Abby 80-72 with less than four minutes remaining in regulation.

*****

7:56 p.m. – Barn-burner still fully involved, as Kits and Abby Senior are tied 72-72 with five minutes left in the fourth quarter. Great, great game.

*****

7:42 p.m. – The Panthers led by as many as seven points in the third quarter, but the Blue Demons have battled back to tie it up 58-58 heading to the fourth quarter. We’re in for an awesome finish.

*****

7:36 p.m. – Chase. Claypool. On the fast break, he just unleashed a flurry of moves – a crossover to slither between two defenders, a spin move to elude the second – and finished with a lefty scoop shot. Ridiculous. The Panthers are up 58-53 with three minutes left in the third quarter, and Kits coach Randy Coutts just hollered “He’s killing us!” at his players, obviously in reference to Claypool. Good fun.

*****

7:29 p.m. – Fantastic start to the third quarter for the Panthers, who tear off a 10-2 run to open the frame. Point guard Jordan Fox bookends the run with a pair of three-pointers. The home team’s got the momentum.

*****

7:14 p.m. – It’s shaping up to be a barn-burner here at The Pit, as Kitsilano takes a 39-38 lead over the Snowball tourney host Abby Senior Panthers into halftime. Chase Claypool is proving awfully difficult for the Blue Demons to contain; he’s got a game-high 15 points. Charles Song has 14 points for Kits, but only two since the first quarter.

And just to resolve any lingering suspense over one of my posts from earlier this morning, I did end up purchasing some fresh-cut tulips at the table in the lobby for my wife. Brownie points coming my way, no doubt.

*****

7:00 p.m. – Kits responded to Abby’s Claypool-led run with a 9-0 spurt of their own, and they’re now up 34-26 midway through the second quarter.

*****

6:55 p.m. – Two words: Chase. Claypool. The Panthers’ multitalented 6’5” wing just took over the game for a couple possessions to draw his team to within 25-23.

First, Claypool stuck with a Kitsilano opponent on a drive to the hoop and then swatted his shot at the rim. Then, he sprinted down the court and hollered for the ball, and was rewarded with a pass that he finished with a layup in traffic. The next Abby possession yielded another high-flying layup for Claypool. The home crowd is loving it.

*****

6:51 p.m. – Kits is up 25-19 on Abby Senior at the end of the first quarter. Howard Wang is leading the way for the Blue Demons – the 6’5” swingman has proven dangerous both from beyond the arc and slashing to the hoop. And Kits point guard McCoy Lum, who had departed earlier favouring his ankle, is back in. Looked worse than it was, apparently.

Moeiz Athaya has heated up for the Panthers, reeling off eight straight points for his team to end the frame including a pair of three-pointers and a fast-break layup assisted by Chase Claypool.

*****

6:43 p.m. – I love what Jordan Goheen brings to the Panthers – the Grade 12 power forward does the dirty work that teams need to be successful. Already in this game, he’s grabbed an offensive rebound he had no business getting and laid it in through contact, and then sprinted down to the defensive end and swatted a Kits shot.

The Blue Demons lead 11-8 early, but McCoy Lum was just helped off the court with an apparent ankle injury. You always hate to see that.

*****

6:31 p.m. – Up next we’ve got the host Abby Senior Panthers taking on Vancouver’s Kitsilano Blue Demons in the quarter-finals. Kits is No. 8 in the B.C. AAAA rankings while Abby is No. 1 in AAA, so this shapes up as an interesting comparison between the top two tiers of B.C. high school boys basketball.

We’ve had pretty good crowds all day, but it’s really filling up now. And I anticipate it’s going to be packed to the rafters for the last quarter-final of the day between the Mouat Hawks and the Fairfax Lions of Los Angeles (8:15 p.m. tip-off).

*****

6:25 p.m. – I had to step out of the gym for a few minutes (my humblest apologies) and Iwalked back in just in time to watch Burnaby South put the finishing touches on a 99-67 win over Yale. I wish I could tell you first-hand how it happened, but I’m told Yale led by seven points early in the third quarter and then it all just unraveled. The Lions apparently struggled with turnovers, which led to transition opportunities for the Rebels.

Burnaby South’s Jermaine Haley and Yale’s Jauquin Bennett-Boire tied for game-high scoring honours with 32 points apiece. But only one can move on to the semifinals, and that’s going to be Haley and the Rebels.

*****

5:30 p.m. – Upset brewing? Quite possibly, as Yale has built a 44-40 lead over Burnaby South heading into halftime. The Rebels are ranked No. 2 among AAAA teams in the province and have lost just one game against B.C. foes this season, while the Lions are a AAAA honourable mention. But Yale has been fantastic, flying around on defence and leaning heavily on Jauquin Bennett-Boire at the offensive end. JBB poured in 19 points in the first half in spectacular fashion.

Jermaine Haley, Burnaby South’s stud, dominated early with 10 points in the first quarter, but the Lions limited him to four in the second quarter. Yale’s Terry Kwon deserves a shout-out for his gritty defensive effort on Haley, despite giving up seven inches – he’s listed at 5’11”, Haley is 6’6”. I know Haley is more of a perimeter player, but it wouldn’t hurt if he ventured down to the post a little more often to take advantage of the height mismatch.

*****

5:09 p.m. – Yale’s post players, Mike VanderWerff and Tamikah Otanga, combined for a nice defensive play. Burnaby South’s Nicolas Trninic grabbed an offensive board and looked to have an easy layup, but VanderWerff came hustling over and leaped the challenge the shot. That forced Trninic to pump fake, but it also gave Otanga enough time to hustle from even further away and swat Trninic’s shot. It was a pretty sweet swat, and Otanga got some love from the crowd.

The Rebels hold a slim 26-24 lead early in the second quarter.

*****

5:03 p.m. – Haley shows a flash of brilliance, going coast-to-coast and finishing with a layup in traffic to give Burnaby South a 26-22 lead over Yale at the end of one quarter.

*****

5:00 p.m. – Yale trailed by as many as 11 points, but they’ve rallied to cut Burnaby South’s lead to 20-19 behind Jauquin Bennett-Boire. He just blew past Jermaine Haley with a hesitation move so nasty it made the crowd gasp, and finished the layup plus the foul. He’s really determined to make Haley work on D.

*****

4:49 – We’ve got a noteworthy guard match-up on our hands, as Burnaby South’s Jermaine Haley – a 6’6” NCAA Div. 1 prospect who spent warm-ups entertaining the crowd with some phenomenal dunks – is guarding Yale’s Jauquin Bennett-Boire. JBB isn’t guarding Haley at the other end, but still, it’s fun to watch two of B.C.’s top seniors share the court.

Burnaby South is out to an early 9-5 lead.

*****

4:33 p.m. – 83-57 is the final, Kelowna Owls over the Walnut Grove Gators. Player of the game Matt Lafontaine racked up a game-high 19 points for the Owls, while Parker Simson scored 17. Tyler Anderson, Ty Rowell and Andrew Mckay had eight points apiece for Grove.

On deck we’ve got the Yale Lions playing their second game of the day, taking on the B.C. AAAA No. 2-ranked Burnaby South Rebels in the quarter-finals.

*****

4:20 p.m. – Hard to think of anything else to say about this Kelowna-Grove game, other than noting that the Owls are in the process of putting together the most impressive performance of the tournament thus far. It’s not really close, actually – what they’re doing against a very good Gators team is nothing short of impressive. They lead 74-49 with five minutes left in the fourth quarter.

*****

3:57 p.m. – We just had a power-outage scare, as all the lights in The Pit (Abby Senior’s venerable gym) suddenly went out. As it turned out, a little kid had started flicking light switches. Too funny. After a brief delay, the court is lit again and Kelowna and Walnut Grove are back underway. Owls lead 58-35.

*****

3:50 p.m. – Walnut Grove guard Andrew Mckay just sparked his squad with an utterly spectacular play. He got a steal on defence and pushed it upcourt, then uncorked a 360-degree spin move between two Kelowna defenders and finished the layup despite absorbing a foul. He gets extra points in my book (and one on the scoreboard) for hitting the ensuing free throw.

It’s still a huge hill to climb for the Gators, who trail 55-31 early in the third quarter.

*****

3:39 p.m. – Kelowna is still firmly in control at halftime, leading Walnut Grove 47-21. Quite the performance from the Owls – this is a talented Gators team that’s been ranked in the AAAA top 10 for most of the season (they’re currently an honourable mention).

I’m especially enjoying the work of Kelowna guard Parker Simson. They’re not tracking steals at the scorer’s table, but Simson must have a half-dozen of them as he spearheads the Owls’ D. That’s led to a boatload of buckets in transition for Kelowna.

*****

3:16 p.m. – What a first quarter for the Owls – they led by as many as 17 points, and hold a 22-8 edge on Walnut Grove at the end of the frame. The Gators struggled to finish at the rim in the early going, and that seemed to sap their confidence. But they settled down a bit at the end of the quarter.

*****

3:12 – Really nice play just now by Kelowna guard Parker Simson – after getting a steal on defence, he pushed the ball up the floor, sliced between two Walnut Grove defenders, and flipped in a reverse scoop shot. High degree of difficulty on that one.

That’s just one of the highlights for the Owls, who are thoroughly dominating the Gators, up 17-3 with 2:33 left in the first quarter.

*****

3:03 p.m. – Kelowna and Walnut Grove are underway, and it’s the Owls – despite playing their second game of the day – who have an early 5-0 lead. Owls centre Grant Shephard supplied some early fireworks, throwing down a two-handed dunk off a feed from Nav Sandhu and later rejecting a shot by Grove’s Tyler Anderson.

It’s also worth noting that Kelowna’s black and yellow striped warm-up pants are fantastic. #basketballfashion

*****

2:36 p.m. – Up next is the first quarter-final of the day, featuring Langley’s Walnut Grove Gators vs. the Kelowna Owls. And for those scoring at home, I’ve consumed three cinnamon buns so far today.

*****

2:28 p.m. – That’s one heck of a comeback by the Hawks, who came back from eight points down in the fourth quarter to beat MEI 66-59.

Jass Singh’s seventh (!) trey of the night, which came from at least two big strides back of the arc, snapped a 55-55 tie, and Jordyn Sekhon followed up with seven quick points of his own to give Mouat some breathing room. Singh earned player of the game honours after racking up 27 points.

The outcome shouldn’t take any of the shine off a great performance from MEI’s Joel Sinclair, who scored 18 points.

The Hawks advance to the quarter-finals to take on the Fairfax Lions of Los Angeles. That game tips off at 8:15 p.m. this evening.

*****

2:16 p.m. – The Hawks got hot in a hurry, reeling off a 9-1 run to erase MEI’s eight-point lead and tie it up 52-52. That run included Jass Singh’s sixth three-pointer of the game. Five minutes left in the game, and MEI’s Joel Sinclair is back on the court after a short breather.

*****

2:09 p.m. – MEI centre Joel Sinclair is just dominating right now, and I think the most effective part of his game is how he always seems to be under control as he drives to the hoop. The Eagles lead 51-43 early in the fourth quarter.

First half action between MEI and Mouat at Snowball Classic.

A video posted by abbynews (@abbynews) on Jan 15, 2015 at 1:37pm PST

*****

1:56 p.m. – Two guys playing really well right now – MEI’s Joel Sinclair and Mouat’s Jordyn Sekhon.

Sinclair is an absolute freight train going to the hoop, and he’s the Eagles’ best option offensively right now.

Sekhon does a little bit of everything – a blocked shot here, a made three-pointer there, and maybe a nice baseline drive and dish to teammate Jass Singh for an open triple for good measure. Speaking of Singh, he just hit his SIXTH three-pointer of the game. Kid’s on fire.

We’re all tied up at 36-36 with just over three minutes left in the third quarter.

*****

1:36 p.m. – Fantastic finish to the half for MEI, who tear off a 7-0 run over the last three minutes of the frame to cut Mouat’s lead to 26-25 at the break. Switching to a zone defence proved effective in slowing the roll of Hawks guard Singh.

*****

1:30 p.m. – Jass Singh has got it goin’ on for the Hawks. The Grade 11 shooting guard just exploded for 11 quick points – a trio of three-pointers, plus a putback in transition – to give his team a 26-18 lead with three minutes left in the second quarter. The kid can shoot the rock.

*****

1:16 p.m. – The Eagles lead 12-10 at the end of the first quarter, and Joel Sinclair’s pretty reverse layup just before the buzzer is the difference. Based on the low score, you might guess that neither team is shooting the ball particularly well. You’d be right. Both squads are lacking finish under the hoop, but the defence has been solid at both ends.

*****

1:10 p.m. – Mouat senior guard Jimmy Litt just drained a three-pointer, prompting the guy seated beside me to crack, “He just got Litt up!” The chances of a corny joke like that making it into this blog will always be 100 per cent.

MEI holds an early 10-8 lead, and their most memorable highlights have been blocked shots by Joel Sinclair (6’4”) and Keaton Boughen (5’10”). It’s always fun to see a smaller gentleman like Boughen, in particular, get up for a nice swat.

*****

12:43 p.m. – Yale finishes strong, beating St. George’s 75-61 behind 17 points from Bennett-Boire. Saints got 12 points from Wesley Graham. The Lions move on to play AAAA No. 2-ranked Burnaby South in the quarter-finals at 4:45 p.m. tonight.

The next game features ancient Abbotsford rivals MEI and Mouat. Should be a beaut.

*****

12:35 p.m. – The Lions are really rolling now, leading 72-59 with three minutes left in regulation. Jauquin Bennett-Boire is bulling his way to pretty much wherever he wants to go on the floor, and Tamikah Otanga just had a fantastic blocked shot off the glass. Heck of a play.

*****

12:18 p.m. – Yale takes a 58-52 lead on St. George’s heading to the fourth quarter. Bennett-Boire is getting stronger as the game goes on – Saints having an awfully hard time keeping him out of the paint.

*****

12:03 p.m. – Quick shout-out to Yale’s post players, Tamikah Otanga and Mike VanderWerff. They’re not the tallest gents – they each stand 6’3”, which means they’re at a disadvantage size-wise against most AAAA opponents. But they’ve got some game. Otanga is an extremely active player who shoots the highest-arcing free throws I have probably ever seen. They’re absolute ceiling-scrapers, but he just went 2-for-2 at the line and the ball didn’t even touch the rim on either attempt. These are the nerdy basketball details that I get a kick out of.

VanderWerff is a hard worker who just hustled back in transition to get a very nice shot-block.

Yale, ever so slowly, seems to be taking control of this game, leading 50-44 midway through the third quarter.

*****

11:48 a.m. – Highlight-reel play by Saints’ Derek Safnuk just now. With the clock ticking down at the end of the second quarter, Yale’s Terry Kwon went up for a baseline layup only to have his shot hammered off the wall by Safnuk, St. George’s 6’6” centre. Kwon deserves props, though – he played really well in the second quarter, knocking down a couple of three-pointers.

St. George’s takes a 40-39 lead into the break, having ended the second quarter on a 9-3 run. They’re at their best in transition, with guard Wesley Graham regularly leaking out for fast-break layups.

*****

11:42 a.m. – Yale is surging. Back-to-back three-pointers by Jauquin Bennett-Boire and Terry Kwon have the Lions up 36-31 with just over three minutes left in the second quarter.

*****

11:31 a.m. – Yale’s back in the game – they’ve cut St. George’s lead to 23-19 at the end of the first quarter.

It was pretty much inevitable that the Lions’ backcourt would find traction at some point. Jauquin Bennett Boire is an absolute tank at 6’2”, and I can’t imagine any player in the province will earn more and-ones this season than him. And Riley Braich, who I believe is in Grade 11 (not specified in the tournament program) scored 63 points in a win over Sardis earlier this season. That’s not a typo. 63 points. So the kid is a little bit explosive.

*****

11:22 a.m. – Fantastic start for St. George’s – they’re up 14-3 early on Yale. The Lions’ guards are driving into the paint, but they’re not having a lot of success finishing, and that’s led to a lot of fast breaks for Saints.

*****

11:05 a.m. – Kelowna stepped on the gas and pulled away for a 91-69 win over Brentwood. Nav Sandhu led the Owls’ balanced attack with 20 points, while Brentwood’s Skyler Rustad exploded for 30 points. Kelowna moves on to the quarter-finals, where they’ll play Walnut Grove at 3 p.m. this afternoon.

Up next we’ve got Abbotsford’s own Yale Lions vs. the St. George’s Saints of Vancouver. Both teams are honourable mentions in the AAAA provincial rankings. Should be a terrific match-up.

*****

10:37 a.m. – With Skyler Rustad raining down threes, Brentwood has made a push and now trails 64-51 heading to the fourth quarter. Kelowna’s lead was well over 20 at one point.

*****

10:30 a.m. – Both of these teams, Kelowna and Brentwood, have some nice backcourt talent. Owls point guard Davide Ciancio is a real solid all-around player, and just knocked down a three-pointer. His team is up 62-46 with just under three minutes left in the third quarter.

On the Brentwood side, Skyler Rustad has swished a trio of triples over the last few minutes, including a high-arcing sky-scraper that he launched over the outstretched fingertips of a Kelowna defender. That thing nearly touched the rafters, in all seriousness. Great shot.

*****

10:20 – Props to whoever put together the music mix today – they’re playing Lauren Hill’s “To Zion” at halftime. You don’t usually hear this sort of slow jam at a basketball game, but I’m in favour of any time anyone anywhere plays a song from The Miseducation of Lauren Hill, one of the great hip-hop albums of all time. The young’uns in the crowd probably wouldn’t have any idea what I’m talking about right now – Miseducation was released in 1998. Nevertheless, it’s worth a listen.

Speaking of 1990s hip-hop … if the DJ happens to be reading this, I’d like to request a song from the Space Jam soundtrack. Any song will do – ideally Seal’s Fly Like an Eagle.

The second half between Kelowna and Brentwood is about to begin.

*****

10:15 a.m. – Dunk alert! Kelowna’s Grant Shephard just threw down a huuuuuuuuge two-hander on the fast break, thus firing up the crowd. I’d like to retract my earlier statement that Kelowna doesn’t have great size this year – according to the tournament program, Shephard is 6’8”. In fairness to me, he’s still a little guy compared to Braxston Bunce, the 6’11” behemoth who graduated from Kelowna in 2012 and landed a scholarship to Cornell University.

The Owls, by the way, lead Brentwood 54-30 at halftime.

This next note is kind of off-topic, but the PA announcer just alerted fans that they can buy “beautiful fresh-cut tulips” in the lobby. I know when I go to a high school basketball tournament, I expect to be able to do all my tulip shopping at the same time. (But seriously, I should probably pick up some for my wife…)

*****

10:06 a.m. – The Owls are quickly draining the suspense from this game, stretching the lead to 50-23 late in the second quarter. Their press is seriously fantastic, and wing Nav Sandhu is raining down three-pointers – he’s hit three in a row this quarter.

*****

9:48 a.m. – The Snowball actually tipped off yesterday with one game. The host Abby Senior Panthers, B.C.’s No. 1-ranked AAA team, knocked off their crosstown rival, the AAA No. 8-ranked Bateman Timberwolves, 68-57.

The second game of the day is underway, and it’s the Kelowna Owls leading Brentwood College 27-16 early in the second quarter. Brentwood got off to a great start, leading for most of the opening frame, but Kelowna’s full-court zone press started gaining traction and sparked a huge run.

Kelowna is fun to watch – the No. 6-ranked AAAA squad in the province doesn’t have as much size as in seasons past, but they make up for it by pressing like maniacs.

*****

9:40 a.m. – …and we’re live from the 55th annual Snowball Classic! Stick to this page throughout the day for updates of the action as it happens. Which teams will emerge as the favourites (aside from the obvious – L.A.’s Fairfax Lions)? Which players will carve out a place in Snowball lore? How many cinnamon buns from the hospitality room will I consume (my record is five)?

It’s going to be a great day.