After a nervous start in front of a raucous capacity crowd, the Abbotsford Senior Panthers eventually found their comfort zone in the opening game of the Snowball Classic.
The tournament hosts found themselves trailing the Robert Bateman Timberwolves, their crosstown AAA senior boys basketball league rivals, 34-29 midway through the second quarter. But they stomped on the gas at that point, ending the half on an epic 22-0 run, and cruised to an 89-72 victory.
“Bateman did a really great job – it was a fun game,” acknowledged Panthers coach Prentice Lenz, whose team moves on to face the AAAA No. 7-ranked Sardis Falcons in the quarter-finals at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday. “Rebounding and defence were really key for us in the second quarter.
“We had a good defensive spark that led to offence, and that’s where we pulled away. Other than that, it was neck-and-neck the whole time.”
Panthers senior forward Sirban Gill racked up 24 points en route to player of the game honours, while Jamie Konrad (21 points) and Chase Claypool (15) also chipped in offensively.
Iqbal Grewal (a team-high 17 points) replied for the T-Wolves, who had come in with a lot of momentum, having won their home tourney last weekend.
Bateman brought two busloads of students from their northeast Abbotsford campus, creating an electric vibe at The Pit, Abby Senior’s venerable gymnasium.
“They had about 100 kids here, so the gym was packed for both of us . . . it was a great atmosphere,” Lenz noted.
The Panthers-T-Wolves clash was the lone Snowball game of the day on Wednesday – the tourney gets going in earnest on Thursday, and a complete schedule is below.
SNOWBALL CLASSIC SCHEDULE
Game 1 – 12:45 p.m., Abby Senior 89, Bateman 72
Game 2 – 9:30 a.m., South Okanagan vs. Vancouver College
Game 3 – 11:15 a.m., St. George’s vs. W.J. Mouat
Game 4 – 1 p.m., MEI vs. Kelowna
Game 5 – 3 p.m., Burnaby South vs. Winner Game 3
Game 6 – 4:45 p.m., Yale vs. Winner Game 3
Game 7 – 6:30 p.m., Sardis vs. Abby Senior
Game 8 – 8:15 p.m., Henry Carr vs. Winner Game 4
Game 9 – 10:45 a.m., L4 vs. L2
Game 10 – 12:30 p.m., Bateman vs. L3
Game 11 – 2:15 p.m., L8 vs. L5
Game 12 – 4 p.m., L7 vs. L6
Game 13 – 6 p.m., W7 vs. W6
Game 14 – 8 p.m., W8 vs. W5
Game 15 – 10:45 a.m., L9 vs. L10
Game 16 – 12:30 p.m., W9 vs. W10
Game 17 – 2:15 p.m., L11 vs. L12
Game 18 – 4 p.m., W11 vs. W12
Game 19 – 6 p.m., L14 vs. L13
Game 20 – 8 p.m., W14 vs. W13