The Sparwood Spartans Senior Boys basketball team are Kootenay champions after defeating the Fernie Falcons 73-64 in the final game of a five-team tournament at Sparwood Secondary School on Saturday.
They have secured a spot in the British Columbia Single A Provincial Championships, which are taking place in Langley B.C. from March 7-10.
Spartans forward Wyatt Wyld scored 24 points in the effort. His teammate Tyler Bruce scored 20.
The Falcons were leading by almost ten points at the end of the first quarter, not a typical state of affairs for the Spartans who typically win via blowout. The two teams have met a number times this season and this was by far the closest outcome.
Fernie was runner up in the tournament and will be playing against a Vancouver area team for a wildcard spot at provincials.
“Kudos to them,” said Spartans coach Peter Templin. “They’ve vastly improved.”
In the second quarter, the Spartans stopped throwing the ball away and found their game, which consisted of fast breaks and perimeter three point shots. Fernie never recaptured the lead.
“We try to make them concentrate on defense,” said Templin. “But sometimes that goes to the wayside when they start hitting those threes.”
“I think a little bit had to do with nerves,” added Sparwood’s assistant coach Adam Christensen of the close outcome as a huge home team crowd had packed into the school gym for the game.
Sparwood’s basketball team is ranked fifth in the province. Penny Lowe, athletic director of Sparwood Secondary said its core group of players – who all happen to be over six feet tall – have been playing together since the eighth grade.
She said they’ve been playing together for so long that they’ve developed a sixth sense for where their teammates are on the court, “so it’s easy for them to make plays.”
“They’re all really passionate about the sport,” said Lowe. “As soon as school opens in the morning, after school and at lunch time, they’re always in here and they’re always playing basketball.”