Fans showing up to The Pit at Abby Secondary on Saturday expecting to see the Mount Vernon show got a much more competitive game than expected.
For three quarters, the Kelowna Owls ran with the Mount Vernon Knights in the Snowball Classic final, but the Knights defensive pressure finally broke the Owls in the fourth.
Kelowna started off hot in the first half, using the inside presence of Grant Shepherd and the outside skills of Matt Lafontaine to frustrate the Knights. The Owls had an 11-5 lead early, but Mount Vernon quickly went on a 10-0 run. The Knights had the 28-26 edge after the first quarter.
The teams traded leads for much of the second quarter, but Knights guard Demetre Roberts hit a three in the final seconds of the half to give Mount Vernon the 50-47 lead.
The Owls came out hot in the third, building to a lead of 63-57 late in the quarter, only for the Knights to catch fire late and escape the quarter with a 73-67 lead.
Fueled by tournament most valuable player Noah Morgan and his 38 points, the Knights turned it on in the fourth quarter and won 104-87.
Knights head coach Bob Cimmino said his team had to recommit to defence in the second half to win.
“At halftime we stressed that we had to stop cheating defensively,” he said. “Every time we would cheat and reach, they would burn us. They really pushed us today. This wasn’t an average performance from us. Our kids had to step up to beat a quality team like Kelowna.”
The Owls and Knights were somewhat familiar with each other, as the clubs met last year at a tournament in Edmonton. MVP Noah Morgan of the Knights said he and his teammates knew it wasn’t going to be easy.
“We knew they were going to be tough but we also knew it was going to be a game full of runs,” he said. “We knew we weren’t going to blow them out of the building. We kept composure after a close first half and played really hard in the second.”
Morgan, Roberts and Marco Morency from the Knights were all named to the tournament all-star team. Other players included: Shepherd and Lafontaine from the Owls, Winston Churchill’s Harry Liu and Karn Virk, Walnut Grove’s Jake Cowley and Tyler Rowell, Yale’s Riley Braich and Abbotsford’s Chase Claypool.
Saturday also saw Churchill edge Walnut Grove 84-83 for third place in the tournament. Other results from Saturday included: Robert Bateman defeating MEI 68-57, WJ Mouat beating GW Graham 105-93, Abby over Kitsilano 83-76, Yale over St. George’s 107-104, St. George’s over Kitsilano 91-73 and Yale over Abby 104-91.
For highlights from the final game, click here.
Read Wednesday’s print edition of The Abbotsford News for more from the tournament.