The scene: the Kelowna Owls look like they had a sure-fire basket which would have given them the lead with 94 seconds to play in the championship final.
But six-foot-eight Dominic Parolin sprinted back on defence and swatted the shot off the backboard with a Centennial Centaurs teammate corralling the ball.
“I thought that was the turning point in the game. It was Lebron James-like and you don’t throw those comments around loosely,” said Centaurs coach Rob Sollero after Parolin came up with what very well may have been a game-clinching block.
“We thought it was a guaranteed two points for Kelowna. He just came out of nowhere and blocked that,” the long-time coach marvelled.
Centennial maintained their one-point lead and closed out an 84-81 victory on Saturday night in the championship final of the 2019 Boys Tsumura Basketball Invitational at Langley Events Centre.
Parolin scored 39 points in the championship final and finished the four games with an average of 31.5 points per game to earn the most valuable player award. He showcased an impressive arsenal of inside moves all tournament, including an ability to hit from beyond the arc.
“I just knew we needed a momentum booster. It was a big block (and) I think we took over the game after that moment,” Parolin said.
The game featured 13 lead changes and six ties with the Centaurs trailing by as many as 13 in the second quarter. They whittled the deficit down to four points at the half and down to a single point with one quarter to go setting up the stage for the late-game dramatics.
“We just needed to slow the game down and play to our strengths. Get the ball inside and close out on open shots and be disciplined on defence,” Parolin said about the coaches’ message in the locker room.
“The thing that stood out for me today was resiliency,” Sollero said. “They never quit, they battled, they went down a few times and we stayed fairly composed. We could have given up a few times but we just never gave up. They just kept fighting and fighting.”
In addition to Parolin’s monster game, Dante Petrescu scored 14 points for the Centaurs.
Kelowna was led by 20 points apiece from Malcom Greggor and Jayden Lalonde.
Centennial entered the 20-team tournament ranked third among all Quad-A schools and after beating R.A. McMath in the round of 16 on Thursday, knocked off G.W. Graham in the quarter-final on Friday
Kelowna entered the tournament ranked second in Quad-A and beat Seaquam in their opener, Terry Fox in the second game and then Burnaby South (the top-ranked Quad-A squad) in the semi-final. That
game also went down to the wire with the Owls prevailing 78-77.
In the third-place game, it was the Burnaby South Rebels stopping the Duchess Park Condors 81-63.
The Claremont Spartans topped the Holy Cross Crusaders 77-72 in the fifth/sixth place game while in the seventh/eighth place game, the Terry Fox Ravens defeated the G.W. Graham Grizzlies 89-71.
Seaquam topped Heritage Woods 93-87 in the ninth/10th place game while R.A. McMath was a 78-67 winner over Lord Tweedsmuir in the 11th/12th place game.
And in the non-placement games, Fleetwood Park beat Belmont 71-61, Sir Charles Tupper topped New Westminster 90-79, Oak Bay defeated A.R. MacNeill 89-65 and Walnut Grove bested St. Michaels University School 96-77.