The Senior Boys 3A Zone basketball tournament gets underway Thursday at noon with the defending champion Kelly Road Roadrunners tipping off against the fourth seeded South Peace Penguins. The Prince George Polars take on the North Peace Oscars in the second game.
The third seeded Polars, who play host to this year’s Zones, will have the bleachers filled with vocal supporters eager to see their team score an upset over the #2 Oscars. The rookie laden Oscars will learn a good deal about themselves if they can withstand the partisan volume. "It’s bound to be loud," was the comment from PGSS late Tuesday.
Oscars head coach Derrick Laychuk feels he has the athletes but worries about nerves. "If we can finish our open looks and keep the turnovers under 20 per game we’ll have a chance to win the Zone this year, but we’ve had games where we haven’t taken care of the ball very well."
The Oscars will lean heavily on athletic Femi Ogun, their 6′ 5" senior center who has shown an ability to score in traffic and defend against any big man he has faced this year. Shane Wiebe at 6′ 3" plays the second post position and benefits from the defensive attention Ogun draws in most games. Wiebe is polished but undersized for the battles in the paint, nevertheless he has scored well in his first season at North Peace.
Eleventh grade forwards Matt Stewart 6′ 1" and Kyle Stevens 5′ 11" bring speed and energy to the line up with Stevens the more proficient scorer. Both are quick and able defenders. Blair Campbell and Nick Hazelwood share the point guard position while Josiah Gonzales and Kory Bell take turns starting at the two guard spot. Gavin Yeoman and Turner Churchill round out the ten man roster.
All ten will be needed if the Oscars are to succeed this weekend. A win in their first match will move them into an evening contest with Kelly Road to see which team can advance directly to the Saturday Championship game. Tip off for the final game is noon.
While Kelly Road is a prohibitive favorite to manhandle South Peace, the Oscars are no better than even odds to take the PG Polars. A win is the more desirable outcome but a loss would mean a 7:00 PM start versus South Peace on Thursday evening and then a Friday noon start against one of the Prince George schools with the winner of that one then advancing to the final.
The Roadrunners are early favorites but past history has seen the Polars pull off any number of upsets on their way to claiming more Zone titles than any other North Central school. Shrinking school populations and / or the construction of new schools in Quesnel and Williams Lake has led to past powerhouse programs at Correlieu and Columneetza Secondary Schools leaving the 3A ranks to compete at the Double A level thereby reducing the number of participating teams to the current four.
The Oscars leave for Prince George on Wednesday afternoon as they pull out the stops in an attempt to become just the third Oscars team to reach the March Provincials in Vancouver.