Mountaineers scale Heat in exhibition bout 96-67

okanagan heat

September 29, 2013, KELOWNA, B.C. – The Okanagan Heat Men’s basketball team fell to the Seattle Mountaineers 96-67 in exhibition basketball action Friday night in Kelowna.

Aiming to continually improve, Heat basketball has always welcomed new challenges to prepare itself for the grinding season, especially now that they’re in the ever-competitive Canada West.

It has been routine the last few years for the Seattle Mountaineers Basketball Club to make the trek up to the Okanagan to play a pair of friendlies against the Heat. The first game took place Saturday night and though the Heat made things interesting in a hard-fought third quarter, the Mountaineers would run away to a 96-67 victory.

“They’re a good group,” said Heat coach Pete Guarasci, who has helped coordinate the international gathering more than once. “You never know what kind of group they’re going to bring up but they’re always going to be pretty competitive. All those guys are five, six years older than our boys so no matter what we throw at them they’ve seen it before, so they can handle it with maturity and poise.”

The Heat drew first blood when fifth-year guard Landry Ndayitwayeko (Windsor, ON) scored the first of his six three-pointers for the night. The Okanagan team put up a tough fight in the first quarter, with the Mountaineers leading only by six, 17-11, going into the second quarter.

The second quarter was where things got “out of control” for the Heat, as the Mountaineers found ways to disrupt the Heat’s press, force turnovers and get out on the break, where Demitri Harris would score 13 of his game-high 29 points.

“It just got out of control,” said Guarasci of the second quarter slump. “But our defense wasn’t aggressive enough to stop them and create some turnovers so we can run the other way. We need to play with more speed, more tempo. I thought we were unorganized with our press. We were trying to press to create some tempo but it wasn’t as controlling as I would have liked.”

Ndayitwayeko led the Heat in scoring, pouring in a team-high 20 points on 7-10 shooting, scorching Seattle at the 3-point line 6-8. Fellow fifth-year starting point guard Yassine Ghomari (Vancouver, BC) dropped in 11, mostly from the free-throw line as he went 7-8.

The frontline of the future for the Heat was tested against a formidably strong Seattle frontline, but both Mike Zayonc (5th year, North Vancouver, BC) and Stuart Wallensteen (2nd year, Nanaimo, BC) ground their way to eight and seven rebounds respectively, while adding ten and seven points down in the paint for the Heat.

Vancouver’s Demitri Harris was the main man for the Mountaineers; he notched a game-high 29 points in as many minutes of playing time for the game. Teammate Rory Miller would chip in 23, also over as many minutes of floor time.

Still, it is exhibition matches like these that can best prepare a team for its regular season haul, and the Heat will get another crack at the Mountaineers tomorrow. “I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s match,” added Guarasci. “I’m sure our guys know what to expect and we’re going to go back and look at film, make some adjustments, and hopefully we can have a more controlled game.”

Tip-off for the rematch on Sunday is at 3 p.m. in the gymnasium on UBC’s Okanagan campus.

Heat Notes … Second-year guard Mitch Goodwin was away from the team this weekend for personal reasons … Point-guard James Lum was also out of the lineup, leaving Guarasci with fewer options in his backcourt. It is not yet known when either will be back in the lineup.

Christian J. Stewart
Christian is a professional photographer and media professional based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Currently working as the Assistant General Manager for Victoria HarbourCats Baseball Club, a Senior Contributing Editor and photographer at Independent Sports News (ISN) and operating his own freelance photography and media/pr company.