More than just a provincial title will be at stake on Saturday as so too will be city bragging rights.
It will be an all-Chilliwack affair as the No. 1 Highroad Christian Academy Knights face the No. 3 Unity Christian Flames in the BC High School 1A Boys Tournament. The championship final tips off at 1:30 p.m. at Langley Events Centre.
This will be the fifth meeting of the season between the two local rivals with the Knights winning all four: by three points in overtime, by two points, by 10 and then most recently, a 29-point blowout victory.
But if the Flames play defence like they did in Friday’s semi-final victory, it could be a whole other story.
Unity Christian held an explosive Kelowna Christian Knights offence (which entered the game with 92 and 88-point performances under their belts) to 34 points, including just 13 in the second half.
And while Kelowna Christian could not buy a shot, the Flames were hot, connecting on nearly 65 per cent of their field goals in the first quarter and at just over 28 per cent for the half.
“I have not seen our defence play that well. That was a surprise how well everyone bought in. The buy in and the trust? It takes a lot of trust to rotate and leave your guy and that trust that someone is going to have your back and they did it tonight,” said Unity coach Dave Bron.
The team also drew six offensive fouls, five of which came in the first half.
With the defence getting stops at one end, it led to countless fast break opportunities for the Flames.
Keegan Schuurman led the Flames with 24 points and a dozen rebounds as well as three assists, three blocked shots and two steals. Colby Vander Kooi had 20 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, four blocked shots and a steal.
Jake Sabbagh led Kelowna Christian with 14 points, 19 rebounds, two assists, two blocks and two steals.
Next up for the Flames will be the task of slowing Highroad Academy’s Nico Kattenberg. The six-three forward had 25 points and 25 rebounds in his team’s 79-68 win over the No. 5 Fernie Falcons. He has pulled down 52 rebounds in the first three games.
Asher Hannemann led the Falcons with 21 points and a dozen rebounds while Jake Lampman had 18 points and 10 rebounds. The Knights’ had five players reach double digits with Aidan Morris (18 points, three assists, three steals) complimenting Kattenberg’s massive game.
It was a one-point game with a quarter to play and the Knights scored a dozen of the next 17 points to take the lead for good.
For the second straight game it was a defensive adjustment which sparked the Knights as they switched to 3-2 zone and half-court 1-2-2.
“It got us a couple of points and then the guys just gritted it out,” said head coach Mike Shannon.
Highroad Academy won the provincial banner in 2002 and their last appearance in the championship game came in 2008. Shannon returned to the Knights bench this season after coaching that silver-medal squad a dozen years ago.
The Knights won bronze in 2019 and returned eight players from that squad.