GSS Eagles off to Langley after Kootenay Zone triumph

The Eagles powered their way past their Kootenay Rivals over the weekend and have booked their ticket for the provincials.

(From left): Neal Randhawa

At the outset of the season the Golden Secondary senior boys basketball team set a goal for itself to make it to the provincials in Langley. After a dominating and thoroughly convincing win at the Kootenay Zone Championships, that goal will need to be adjusted.

“We’ve achieved our first step in our ultimate goal of the season which is to go to the provincials and to do well there and win the provincials,” said head coach Kindy Gosal.

The Selkirk Storm bore the wrath of the high-flying Golden Eagles in the tournament’s opener. Golden took an 8-0 lead early and stretched that to a 13-4 advantage before the first quarter was half over. The Storm fought back and got to within two points late in the first, but the Eagles buckled down and took a 23-16 lead into the second.

The offensive fireworks continued in the second quarter for the Eagles. Saje Gosal poured in a couple of three pointers early on and Neal Randhawa routinely found lanes into the paint and was a dominant inside presence. Saje and Randhawa, as usual, led the charge offensively. Altogether, Saje had 23 of his game-high 41 points in the first half, while Randhawa had 25 of his 39 in the game’s opening 20 minutes. It was an impressive performance from the Eagles’ two superstars.

The Eagles held a comfortable 55-38 lead at the half and pulled away in the third quarter with a 33-4 thrashing that put the game out of reach for the overmatched Storm. Selkirk made it a little closer in the fourth and the Eagles just failed to reach triple digits after they rested Randhawa and Saje, winning by a score of 99-62.

The Eagles were understandably feeling good about themselves heading into the championship game on Saturday and it showed in their confident start against Prince Charles Secondary School.

If the opening game was about the great play of the Eagles’ two stars, the second was about a solid all around team effort that once again led to a lopsided score in the Eagles’ favour.

Meva Dhami was typically solid on the boards and the Eagles’ lone graduating player, Rahul Summan, had an outstanding performance in his final home game at GSS. Summan was an offensive force, particularly in the second half, where he made several difficult outside shots with ease. With the game well in hand for the Eagles, Kindy took Summan out of the game with two minutes left to a loud cheer from an appreciative crowd. Kindy embraced his long-time player before Summan took a seat on the bench.

“I’ve been coaching him since he was five years old,” an emotional Kindy said. “He’s going to be gone next year and it’s more than just basketball, it’s relationships.”

The victory was a tribute to a talented Eagles’ roster, but also due to the handwork and intensity from the entire team.

“After the skill and all of the shooting and all of the strategies, the mental part of the game is huge and that’s what separates teams at the end of the day,” Kindy said. “Some of these teams might be as skilled or athletic as us, but if we can be mentally stronger than them and maintain our focus…we’re going to be successful.”

Saje and Randhawa were named Golden’s co-MVPs, a deserving honour for the team’s dynamic duo.

Despite the Eagles’ youth, Saje doesn’t believe anyone should be taking Golden lightly at the provincials.

“We’re such a young team and going into provincials we’re probably going to be the youngest team there,” said Gosol. “We went to provincials when I was in Grade 9 and we struggled. I think we’re ready this time to go back and be competitive.”

The Eagles will have one more game to get ready, a Feb. 26 road date against Canmore Collegiate. The provincials are set to take place in Langley from Mar. 5-8.

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