Timberwolves win provincial berth

The Kwantlen Park Timberwolves needed overtime to do it, but the senior boys’ team has earned a spot in high school basketball’s provincial championships.

Kwantlen Park upset the favoured Centennial Centaurs 102-94 Friday at the Fraser Valley Championships.

The upset gave the Whalley school a ticket to the big show, while Saturday’s 75-47 win against Port Moody’s Heritage Woods earned the Timberwolves the Fraser Valley’s No. 5 seed in the AAA championships and a first-round match-up with Cowichan Valley next Tuesday.

“For the school, and especially the community, this is a good thing,” said co-coach and Kwantlen Park vice- principal Jim Lamond. “Being in the heart of Whalley, often people have a stigma – a negative perception – about what goes on in this community and there’s some wonderful things going on in the community and the school.

“It’s not really about basketball – that’s the vehicle that we’re using to promote the great things that are happening in this part of town because it’s not always about baseball and crime.”

Three Surrey schools reached the championship draw of the Fraser Valley playoffs. Seaquam, Fleetwood Park and Kwantlen Park secondaries all had shots at berths in the provincials.

The Fleetwood Park Dragons and Kwantlen Park Timberwolves squared off last Thursday, with the Timberwolves coming out on the winning end of a 73-70 final.

The loss ended Fleetwood’s provincial dreams, but co-coach Kerry Taylor was still happy with how far the team made it given his roster boasts three Grade 10 starters.

“We wanted to make the Valley draw, and after that, we just wanted to win a game,” Taylor said.

Fleetwood got its win Feb. 26, downing Maple Ridge 73-66, but an earlier 78-35 loss against White Rock Christian set up the do-or-die showdown with Kwantlen Park.

Lamond was worried about the game against Fleetwood after having beaten the Dragons by 30 points three weeks earlier.

“We were concerned because often when you beat a team by 30, the next time you play them, the kids sometimes feel the game is already done, so we had to get them motivated.”

Meanwhile, Seaquam found itself in a similar do-or-die situation against the Centennial Centaurs, dropping a 75-65 decision to bow out of the tournament.

It was do-or-die again for the Timberwolves against the Centaurs, with the winner earning a berth in the provincials, the loser watching from the bleachers.

That set the stage for the overtime thriller with the Coquitlam school.

Kwantlen Park trailed Centennial by eight to 10 points for much of the game.

“Then some of our kids really woke up in the second half and put on an amazing display in the second half – it was really nice to watch,” Lamond said.

Centennial led by five points with about a minute to go, but the Timberwolves made a pair of key defensive stops and ran the ball the other way for points.

Kwantlen Park got the ball back in the dying seconds and guard Justin Cabatuando hit a 15-foot jumper to tie the game 80-80, sending it to overtime.

The Timberwolves then scored 22 points in the extra frame to secure the provincial berth.

The only question remaining was whether the Timberwolves were going to have the fifth or sixth seed coming out of the Fraser Valley. And with the co-coaches – Lamond and John Dykstra – having both played in the AAA final game, they knew the importance of earning the higher seed.

“With our knowledge, we knew getting the fifth seed instead of the sixth seed, and making a statement by winning that game, would help us possibly in the provincial seeding meetings and I think it did,” Lamond said.

Kwantlen downed Heritage Woods 75-47 to earn the higher seed, and drew Cowichan in the first round.

“It’s not (going to be) an easy game, but then there are no easy games in the next week,” Lamond said. “Anything is possible. I’m not going to make a prediction, but we have a good feeling.”

Kwantlen Park opens the provincials Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. at the Agrodome.

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