While the Shuswap Middle School Grade 8 boys basketball team did not claim the North Zone Championships, they did claim a moral victory.
Heads were held high and high-fives were flying after the final buzzer, despite the 57-25 loss.
Shuswap had reason to celebrate, having previously lost to the Panthers 89-13 in the Westsyde tournament and 69-19 in a league game last month.
In order to get to the final of the Grade 8 boys’ North Zones, Shuswap had to win two games last week to secure their spot.
In their quarter-final game against Len Wood Middle, from Armstrong, Shuswap defeated the visitors 68-19.
Matthew Paiement led all scorers with 15 points while Darian Sundby had 14 and Jamie Trow added 10 of his own.
In the semifinals at Fulton, Shuswap defeated their hosts 43-39, in a thrilling match-up.
Once again, Paiement led all scorers with a game high 20 points, with secondary scoring coming from Sundby and Trow adding 10 and eight points respectively.
Although they lost the final of the North Zone Championships to the Vernon Panthers, the Shuswap Phoenix had an outstanding season, and one that head coach Aaron Smith was proud to train.
“We knew that we were in tough going into the final. At the beginning of the year we lost to the Panthers by 76 points, so to lose by 32 is a big improvement. VSS is loaded with talent and players who have been playing basketball for several years. They are well coached, they have a strong skill set, and they have a high basketball IQ already for a Grade 8 team. They will be a strong representative for the Okanagan when they play at the provincials in Maple Ridge next week and we wish VSS lots of success,” said a humble Smith.
“Our boys have lots to be proud of. We had a great season and we learned a lot. We improved at both ends of the court, and we competed with good effort in every game we played this year. Our guys never quit,” added Smith.
“With 22 wins and 11 losses, our record speaks to the kind of success we had this year. All of our players improved and our more experienced players provided great leadership.”
“It was a fun team to be around. The players genuinely liked each other and supported each other on and off the court.”