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Rupert U15 club basketball shines in Kelowna

The team went 2-2 in tourney and gave up the fewest hoops in a field of five

Club basketball is alive and well in Prince.

Recently, the U15 Boys Prince Rupert Islanders were in Kelowna for the Okanagan Heat Hoopfest, where they held their own coming in third place out of five in round-robin play with two wins and two losses.

The Islanders got off to a dominant start taking out the Victus Vanguard (Kelowna) 53-20 then the Mission Elite 60-32.

In the third game, however, the South Burnaby Metro Club (SBMC) would prove too tough for the north coast boys as they went down 66-50.

The final game was a tight one.

“Our last game against Venom (Abbotsford) came down to the last possession of the match for our opponent to score for the win,” said Islanders coach Kevin Sawka.

In the end, it was Venom that was up 53-50 at the final buzzer for the win and first place in the tournament with a record of 4-0.

SMBC came in second at 3-1, Mission Elite in fourth at 1-3 and Victus Vanguard brought up the rear at 0-4.

Sawka counted the third-place finish as a successful tournament, but it wasn’t the only accomplishment he was proud of.

“I was happy that we allowed the fewest points overall in the tournament with very good defence, some fantastic playmaking, and playing together the right way,” he said. “The fact that the team was right in the thick of things has been validation of the hard work they have put in, but also a lightning rod for wanting more.”

He attributed the success in Kelowna and at the Northern Bounce Jamboree in Prince George in April where they went 2-1 to preparation.

“We practiced twice per week and played each weekend against older students in Grade 10-12 from Charles Hays [Secondary School],” Sawka explained.

Sawka started the program because he wanted to give Grade 8 and Grade 9 players an opportunity to play club ball. There were no program costs for the players. Sawka provided his own time for free and the Islander Hall Society and Lions Club also stepped up to support the team by covering some of the costs of insurance, tournament fees and a portion of the uniforms. Families paid for the travel costs.

At the beginning of the season 22 players signed up with 15 (nine Grade 8 and six Grade 9) committing to competing and travelling and they competed in one age division up.

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