On Jan. 24 at the Kicking Horse Classic the Golden Secondary School senior boys basketball team met its match against the Valleyview Vikes from Kamloops.
The Vikes, now ranked as the fourth best AA team in B.C., squeaked out a 67-62 win over the Eagles in a closely contested game. That matchup will now serve as a learning tool for the Eagles, who will get another shot at Valleyview on a bigger stage in the opening round of the Provincial Championships in Langley.
“They’ve beat us twice over the years, in really close games and we feel we can come out ahead against them,” said captain Saje Gosal.
It’s a confident team that will take to the court in Langley, having gone on an incredible run since that loss to Valleyview, including a convincing pair of wins at the Kootenay Zone Tournament to punch their ticket for the provincials.
The Eagles are led on and off the court by Gosal, Neal Randhawa and Rahul Summan, who are very familiar with each other having grown up playing with the Golden Basketball Association (GBA).
“We’ve been playing together since we were five years old with GBA and stuff, now that we are playing on a team together, that makes a difference,” said Gosal.
Even with the solid play from the Eagles’ veteran trio, it is the development of younger players such as Grade 10s Kiran Gosal (Saje’s younger brother) and Meva Dhami that’s helped push the team over the top.
“In terms of our younger kids, Meva and Kiran, they have been playing basketball for a long time and their skills are really advanced but their bodies aren’t necessarily at the strength of a man,” Saje Gosal said.
“We know they are going to be amazing players when they reach Grade 12 as well.”
“On and off the court you have to encourage them and be their friends and grow with them,” said Summan regarding his role as one of the team’s leaders.
“In practice, times get tough some times. (Head coach) Kindy Gosal pushes us hard and sometimes the new players can’t really handle it. As the leaders on the court we have to encourage them to keep pushing themselves…and we all grow as a group,” said Randhawa.
Perhaps the biggest positive for the Eagles is that their entire roster will be returning next year except for Summan, who represents the team’s lone Grade 12 player.
With his high school career coming to an end, it’s understandably a bittersweet time of the year for Summan.
“It hasn’t really hit me,” he said. “I’m just focusing on the next game and the task at hand, I’m sure in the warm ups for our last game of the season it’s going to hit me.”
Tip off for the Eagles’ opening round game is set for 4:30 pm Mountain Time this afternoon. You can catch a live stream of that game at langleyeventscentre.com/events/video-streams.
A loss will put Golden in the consolation bracket, while a win would see them move on to the final eight in the 16 team tournament.