Nelson’s L.V. Rogers Bombers received the test they were hoping for in capturing the Kootenay berth into the BC High School Provincial AA Championships.
The Bombers thumped Golden 75-43 in Saturday night’s final on their home court, but it was the first half of the game that stood out as the key learning point of the weekend for the favoured hosts.
“It’s been a while since we’ve had that kind of atmosphere in The Hangar for a game because we don’t play that many games at home in a season,” said Bombers’ coach Ross Naka. “There were a ton of people that came out for the final. Golden is a good team and have a couple of guys that can play. We were a little tight with the crowd and the scenario during the first half.”
With an enthusiastic crowd at the Fairview gym, the Nelson team did not play the first half Naka expected. By the break the Bombers only held onto a 26-21 lead.
“It’s tough for the guys when you are supposed to dominate,” said Naka.
The Bombers regrouped in the third quarter and pulled away from East Kootenay challenger.
“It [first half] might not have been good for my nerves, but looking back on it at the end of the game… it was good,” said Naka.
To earn their spot in the final, the Bombers disposed of Grand Forks 78-35 in Saturday morning’s semi-final.
“There were challenges in both of those games where I didn’t think there was going to be,” said Naka. “We told them all week that they need to compete like they are 10 points down all the time and to value every possession. Every time we dribbled the ball up the floor we told them it has to be like it’s a tie game and it’s the last possession.”
For most of the season the Bombers have been taking their game to the Okanagan to play against competition that’s more similar to what is expected at the provincials.
“It’s tough to simulate that against Kootenay teams, but when you head into playing better teams across the province, every possession is so important,” said Naka. “That is something that is starting to stick with our guys.”
The provincials will take place in Kamloops starting March 6. The rankings have not been released, but Naka expects the Bombers to be seeded somewhere between 12 and 14 in the 16-team tournament.
The LVR girls came up short in their effort to earn a provincial spot. The girls lost 43-38 to Trail’s J.L. Crowe in the final.