Jordan Jacobs, Sports Editor
The Langley Events Center was packed, the atmosphere was tense, and the fans held their breath while watching the thrilling game. Well, when they weren’t screaming and cheering for their favorite players! The game was tied at the end of the third quarter and only one quarter remained before the provincial Champions would be crowned. Who would win? Nobody could tell. The Gators changed their defense hoping to stop the top scorer of the other team. It worked. The Gators then continued to push and score on offence. That worked. Gator Nation gave it their all cheering while the Walnut Grove senior boys basketball team gave it their all against #2 ranked Kelowna as the final two minutes counted down. At the last seconds of the game, the excitement was too much to bear for both the crowd and the players as they all knew what had just been accomplished. The players rejoiced, the crowd surged onto the floor, the arena played Queen, and the speakers announced,
The Walnut Grove Gators are the champions of British Columbia
The senior boys played against long time rival Kelowna in the Provincial final on Saturday March 11 at 8:15pm. A record count of 5,009 people came to watch the exciting match-up and gator nation was packing up the stands. The Walnut Grove team was playing for the title, but they were also playing for redemption. The grade 11s on the team felt a bit of deja vu walking into the finals as they had gone to the Junior Boys Provincial finals last year. However they came second last year, and wanted a different finish this time around. The grade 12s on the other hand were itching to take on Kelowna so they could redeem themselves after a tough loss to the Owls in the semifinals of provincials last year. The nervous energy and anticipation was felt throughout the arena, along with the excitement of the fans.
The first quarter of the game was intense and after the buzzer, the Gators trailed 21-18. However, instead of getting frustrated, the boys were more determined and ended the first half leading 37-32. The boys continued to score on offence but were having trouble on defense. Kelowna’s point guard, Mason Bourcier, was able to infiltrate the Gator’s defense and continuously scored for Kelowna. They ended the third quarter leading by one point with a score of 58-57. Coach Bergen knew they needed to change on defense if they wanted the win. So they did, and it worked! The Gators’ zone defense stopped the Kelowna offense in its tracks and gave Walnut Grove the win with a score of 78-65! Screams, smiles and even tears broke out of the players and fans as the Walnut Grove senior boys basketball team won the BC High school Boys Basketball 4A Provincials!
A bonus to the night was that WGSS was awarded the School Spirit Award, and its not a surprise. Gator Nation was in full force at every single game of our senior boys team but especially at the final. Even those on spring break were there in spirit as they live streamed the game from their vacation. Way to go Gators!
The MVP of the entire tournament was Walnut Grove’s own James Woods who had come off of two 30 point games going into the final.
Ty Rowell, who had strong showings throughout provincials was awarded First Team All-star while teammate Andrew Goertzen was named to the Second Team All-star.
Congratulations to Coach George Bergen and the entire team. Your school is very proud about what you have accomplished!
The Senior Girls and Grade 8 Girls also competed and finished well at provincials. The Grade 8 girls beat Notre Dame to take 5th place in the Grade 8 Provincial Championships, the second best finish in school history! The senior girls played against rival Argyle, who the girls lost to in the Junior Girls Provincial Championship final last year. The game was intense and exciting as it went into double overtime! The senior girls won and finished seventh overall, the best finish in school history so far.
With these amazing finishes to a long and well-fought season, we hope to see many of the players again next year and wish the best of luck to the graduating grade 12s!