It’s been an eventful month for high school basketball in Fernie, and coach Jared Musschoot says a ‘culture’ is growing around the sport in town.
Musschoot is the head coach for the Fernie Secondary School bantam boy Falcons, and assistant coach for the senior boys team.
“It’s been a good three weeks,” he said in the first few days of March.
“It’s been pretty awesome for Fernie basketball. It’s becoming a culture, which is awesome,” he said.
On Feb. 11 and 12, the bantam boy Falcons played in the East Kootenay Championships at Fernie Secondary School against eight teams from across the region. Fernie defeated the Laurie Middle School Tigers 90-34 in the finals, putting the Falcons’ record at 16-0 for the season.
“We had a really good season actually. We were undefeated… it was a pretty good year,” Musschoot said. The assistant coach for the team is Kevin Fraser.
Following the bantam boys was the senior girls Kootenay Zone Championships on Feb. 19 at Creston Valley Secondary School.
The Fernie Falcons senior girls ‘A’ team went into the championship ranked number one in their division, and competed against Grand Forks and Boundary. They defeated Grand Forks in the final 77-38, and qualified for the BC Basketball ‘A’ Senior Girls Provincial Championships, which took place from March 2-5.
After winning three more games on Feb. 25 an 26, the senior girls were sitting at an 11-0 record heading into the provincials. The coaches for the senior girls ‘A’ team are Jen Kennedy and Rylee French.
The seniors boys ‘A’ team for Fernie also took home a victory in their Kootenay Zone Championships held on Feb. 25 and 26. They were also ranked number one going in, and competed against four teams: Nakusp, Golden, Sparwood, and Grand Forks.
The senior boys Falcons had a tougher match to secure their victory than the senior girls and bantom boys, defeating Grand Forks 89-80, qualifying them for the BC Basketball ‘A’ Senior Boys Provincial Championships.
“It was a close game all the way through,” Musschoot said, adding that “probably one of the best parts of it” was that fans were able to fill the stands at 50 per cent capacity at the Fernie-hosted game.
“It was just amazing to have that support of the community.”
The senior boys’ head coach is AJ Kennedy, with Musschoot as assistant coach.
Heading into the BC Basketball ‘A’ Senior Girls Provincial Championships, held at Kelowna Christian School from March 2-5, the Fernie Falcons senior girls entered ranked 5th in a tournament of of 16 teams.
The Falcons secured third place in the tournament with a 51-47 victory against Vernon Christian School. It was “the highest finish ever” for a Fernie Secondary School senior girls team in a provincial championship, Musschoot said.
The senior boys played in their provincial tournament from March 9-12 in Langley. They placed fourth overall after a “close, hard fought” third-place game against Cedars Christian School, losing 69-70.
Speaking to the culture of basketball being cultivated in Fernie and the Elk Valley, Musschoot pointed to the Fernie Elevate Basketball club, started by Jen and AJ Kennedy about five years ago. Players throughout the Elk Valley participate and get coached during the spring and fall seasons in addition to the regular school season, which typically runs from December to mid-March, Musschoot said.
“That’s really enhanced our players in our town and area.”