Working hard and putting in the effort are not problems for the Walnut Grove Gators.
They did that for three quarters in Thursday’s Grade 8 boys basketball Langley district championship game. And that turned out to be enough as the top-seed Gators beat the Credo Christian Kodiaks 47-27 at the Langley Events Centre.
The only blemish was the second quarter which saw Credo outscore Walnut Grove 14-6.
“In the second quarter, we didn’t play fundamental defence,” said George Kozlovic, who coaches the team alongside Terry Stead.
“And the problem this team has — and their biggest challenge — is their inability to finish around the basket.
“The guys work really hard but they have a tough time sticking the ball in the basket.”
The championship final began great for Walnut Grove as they scored the game’s first 13 points.
And after the Kodiaks cut the lead down to five at the half, Kozlovic and co-coach Terry Stead got the team back on track for the second half.
Walnut Grove forced numerous Credo turnovers en route to a 20-4 lead in the period.
“They played smart and were in the right place and that ended up forcing a lot of turnovers and we finished our lay-ups.”
Jacob Simons led the Gators attack with 16 points — including nine in the first period alone — while Joshua Sharp had nine. Credo was led by Ian Vandergugten’s 10 points.
The Kodiaks, third during the regular season, had upset the No. 2 Yorkson Wolves 34-24 in one semifinal, while the Gators beat the No. 5 Langley Christian Lightning 54-31 in the other.
The Lightning edged the fourth-place Brookswood Bobcats 32-30 in the first round of the playoffs.
And in the third-place game, Langley Christian defeated the Wolves 43-25.
Asher Mayar led the Lightning with 11 points. Jarret Jacobs led Yorkson with 10 points.
Walnut Grove, Credo Christian, Langley Christian and Yorkson all advance to the Fraser Valley championships.