The Smithers senior boys’ basketball team can call themselves champions for the season week in a row.
The Gryphons defeated their cross-town rivals, the Bulkley Valley Christian School 72-65 to win the 2015 Mountain Invitational tournament for the second consecutive year over the weekend.
“We’re happy with the result. We weren’t happy with our efforts the entire game but . . . we take the wins,” said head coach Matt Lowndes.
The team co-hosted the tournament with BVCS, which included schools from Vanderhoof, Burns Lake, Houston, Hazelton and Fraser Lake.
First up, the Gryphons tipped off against Northside Christian School, where they held the lead for the majority of the game. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter when Northside began to slowly close the gap, eventually coming within two points after a three-pointer from Brett Friesen.
But they managed to hold Northside at bay, with the help of Smithers’ Trent Monkman sinking a foul shot with 20 seconds left to widen the gap.
“We got the job done, we got the win,” said Lowndes. “It wasn’t a pretty win at all. We’re learning how to react in different situations.”
Hours later, the Gryphons took on the BVCS.
Momentum swung back and forth between the two teams on Saturday night.
The Gryphons held the lead in the first quarter, but BVCS chipped away at their lead in the second and tied it up just before halftime.
“We made an adjustment on defence in the second half of the game,” said Lowdnes. “We’re running about two or three different presses right now, so we’re just tweaking them a bit and trying to create some chaos.”
BVCS established a lead early in the third, but the Gryphons managed to claw their way back in the final quarter to bring it home.
Steven Tworow earned himself the team’s hard hat award, after tallying 31 points over the weekend.
“I guess my ball distribution was okay, I made some good decisions somewhere near the end,” said Tworow.
Despite the close game, BVCS head coach Chris Steenhof is proud of the team.
“We’re very happy with our performance in the finals and very happy with our performance overall,” said Steenhof. “We lost, but probably played our best basketball all season.”
“We have a good rivalry with the team. It’s gone back and forth but it’s nice to play their team and enjoy the friendly competition.”
Two weeks ago, the Gryphons also won the D.P. Todd Trojan Wars tournament over Duchess Park in Prince George on the road for the first time in recent history.
“We’re coming together as a team and everybody plays for each other,” said Lowndes. “The work ethic is coming. We’ve got 10 kids who like each other and work hard for each other.”