Eagles captain Saje Gosal sizes up Silas Jansen of the Valleyview Vikings in the second quarter of the Eagles' 67-62 loss Friday evening. Golden's head coach Kindy Gosal (back left) looks on.

Golden Eagles take third place at Kicking Horse Classic

A narrow loss to the Valleyview Vikes put the Eagles into the third place game, where they triumphed over the Mount Baker Wild.

Golden Secondary’s senior boys basketball team finished the Kicking Horse Classic off with a win in the third place game Saturday after going 1-1 in the round robin portion on Friday.

The tournament started off on a positive note for the Golden Eagles with a 64-35 win Friday afternoon over Fernie but it was the evening matchup with Valleyview that posed the far bigger challenge for Golden.

Valleyview is ranked 10th in B.C. for schools in its size category, but it was the Eagles who took charge early with an 11-4 lead before the game was five minutes old.

The Vikes, perhaps realizing that the Eagles were going to be a significant challenge, woke up and took control of the game later in the first quarter. Defensively, Valleyview limited Golden to a number of outside shots that were routinely off the mark. Meanwhile, the Vikes gave the Eagles all they could handle at the other end of the court and took advantage of a number of fouls, with several going to Eagles standout Neal Randhawa.

“Basketball is a game of runs and that’s what happens in basketball,” said Eagles coach Kindy Gosal. “You just gotta be able to survive the other team’s run and make them yourself.”

Valleyview took a double digit lead around the game’s midway point and they maintained it for most of the third quarter despite the best efforts of Eagles captain Saje Gosal, who kept the deficit at a manageable level and Meva Dhami, who was a rebounding force inside the paint.

Just when the mountain appeared to be too steep a climb, the Eagles began pouring in shot after shot, with Randhawa providing the bulk of the fireworks. By the time the fourth quarter was five minutes old the Eagles had pulled into a tie with the Vikes, much to the delight of the parents, students and fans who showed up to cheer on the home team. Kamloops began to push back but the Eagles were up to the task as the score see-sawed back and forth between the two teams. The Eagles took a 62-61 lead, their first lead since the first quarter, with just a couple minutes to play.

Late in the game Randhawa fouled out, which left the Eagles without one of their best players for the crucial final two minutes of the game. With that advantage, the Vikes pulled away late for a 67-62 victory.

It was a tough loss for the Eagles but one that didn’t come without some positives.

“We’re a young team, we only have one grade 12,” said Kindy Gosal. “What you saw were some mistakes from a young team in critical situations. We’ll iron those out…We’re starting to get to where I think we need to be.”

The loss put the Eagles into the third place game Saturday afternoon against the Mount Baker Wild from Cranbrook. The Eagles powered to an early lead courtesy of Randhawa’s 11 first quarter points and didn’t look back. The Wild stayed close enough for much of the game but were never able to seriously threaten the Eagles despite a solid effort. Saje Gosal cemented the victory late with 12 points in the final 10 minutes of the 71-53 Eagles victory.

The Eagles will play Mt. Baker again Jan. 28 in Cranbrook and head to Calgary for a tournament on Feb. 7 and 8 as a final tune up before the Kootenay Zone Tournament on Feb. 21 and 22. Golden will host that tournament, with the winner going on to the Provincial Championships in Langley B.C. in March.