They may not have been at their best, but the Walnut Grove Gators still managed a third-place finish at the provincial championships.
The Gators were competing at the Grade 8 boys basketball B.C. provincial invitational championships held in Pitt Meadows last week.
“Honestly, I don’t think we played our best,” admitted Walnut Grove’s George Kozlovic, who co-coaches the team with Terry Stead.
“I thought we played better at the Fraser Valleys.”
At the Valleys, the Gators came second.
But they settled for third after going 3-1 at the provincials.
The team’s lone loss came in the semifinals, a 74-43 defeat at the hands of the eventual champion Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs finished the season undefeated.
“We are pretty happy with third,” Kozlovic said.
“Other than the Churchill game, our defence was really, really good, especially in the third-place game.”
He was referring to the Gators 46-32 win over South Okanagan.
In that game, Walnut Grove limited their opponent to a dozen points in the first half.
While they would have liked a better showing in their semifinal loss, that can be traced to an inability to score.
“We had lots of trouble scoring, Churchill shut us down,” Kozlovic said.
“We just couldn’t put the ball in the hoop when we had the chances.”
In the Gators other two games, they defeated Clarence Fulton 61-27 and then edged the St. George’s Saints 49-47 in the quarter-finals.
Wei Chung and Ethan Kano-McGregor both earned second-team all-star awards.
“Wei has been by far our best player all year,” Kozlovic said of his point guard.
“He is the most skilled and has played the most out of all our players.
“He had a very good tournament, especially against St. George’s; he was huge (in that game).”
Kano-McGregor, a small forward on the team is in his first year of basketball.
“He is a great athlete and is our hardest worker,” Kozlovic said.
“We rely on him to usually guard the other team’s best player.”
The coach also said Kano-McGregor was the Gators’ most consistent player over the tournament.