(Marisca Bakker photo)

Home team falls a hair short in Mountain Invitational basketball

Bulkley Valley Christian School loses nail-biter final to Gidgalang Kuuyas Naay’s

It was a special night for basketball fans Jan. 21 watching the finals of the Senior Boys Mountain Invitational at Smithers Secondary School.

In a showdown between two small schools, each led by talented Grade 11 guards, Gidgalang Kuuyas Naay’s Breakers (GKNS) defeated the Bulkley Valley Christian Royals 57-54 in a thrilling championship game before an energetic crowd.

In the battle of the guards, provincial all-star David Loki had 36 points for the Royals while tournament MVP Levi Burton from GKNS had 21, including a last-minute driving lay-up after one of his numerous steals.

The night started poorly for the home team Royals who went down 22-6 early but after some half-time adjustments, charged back to take the lead in the third quarter. Things looked up for BVCS when one of GKNS’ top players went down with an injury. But it was not to be and when a last-second desperation shot fell short, the Breakers were tournament champions.

This year’s Mountain Invitational included 10 teams and some thrilling games. Both semi-finals were close affairs with BVCS defeating Nisga’a 74-68 and GKNS beating Charles Hayes Secondary 65-55. The weekend also featured strong sportsmanship and positive crowds.

“It was amazing to get back to a full tournament with fans and 10 teams after we haven’t had the tournament for two years due to COVID,” said BVCS coach and tournament organizer James Horner. “There was so much exciting basketball.”

The tournament marks the beginning of zone tournament season with several events being held in Smithers during the month of February. The climax will be the Senior Boys “A” and “AA” tournaments being held in Smithers on February 24 and 25. The winners of those tournaments will travel to Langley in early March for the provincial championships.

“Zones is going to be special. There are potentially five teams who could win and represent our zone. There will be some very exciting basketball,” said Horner, whose team hopes to represent the zone again and improve on last year’s fifth place provincial finish.

The tournament will be held at different schools in Smithers. Details can be found at www.bvcs.ca closer to the tournament date.

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