Submitted by Ian Johnson
The Fernie Secondary senior boys basketball team is enjoying an incredible start to their season. The team recently competed in two tournaments on back-to-back weekends. The first tournament in Invermere was in a four team round robin format. The boys only had a handful of practices prior to the tournament, however through intense defense, unselfish passing and consistent scoring from second year forward Adam VanWick, who averaged over 20 points a game, Fernie finished the tournament with the best record and took home the championship trophy.
The following weekend was a much bigger 10-team tournament split between South Slocan and Nelson. Fernie started well against Nakusp, winning by 26 points. The Falcons forwards Max Johnson and Beno Hart dominated the inside game on both ends and Nakusp wasn’t able to close the lead built up in the second quarter of the game.
The second game was against last year’s rivals and tournament hosts South Slocan. Fernie again started hot, going on an impressive run in the first quarter that gave them a 16-point lead going into the second. From then on Fernie played impressive lock down defense, which kept Slocan from evening the score. The final score read 60 to 52, with Max Johnson pouring in 20 points to lead all scorers.
In the third game against Castlegar, the Falcons built up an early lead and then the second unit players took over and not only maintained the lead but expanded it. Clay Birch scored 11 points off the bench, while impressive defensive games from Brandon Dixon allowed the Falcons to rest their starters for most of the second half.
The final against Nelson’s L.V. Rogers High School was an intense defensive battle. Rarely is a tournament final the lowest scoring game of the tournament, but neither team was giving away any easy baskets. The lead went back and forth but was close throughout, with neither team having a lead greater than eight points. Nolan Rae took a beating while handling the ball for Fernie. He took a number of hard fouls as well as standing in for two charging fouls. By the end of the game he was swollen and bruised but he remained on the floor doing efficient work handling and distributing the ball as well as kicking in a timely five points and eight assists.
The game finished in a dramatic and exciting fashion. With only seconds left in the game, Fernie was clinging on to a two-point lead. A shooting foul put Nelson on the free throw line, shooting two. The Nelson player hit the first shot and needed to make the second to tie the game and send it into overtime. The player missed the second shot but a long rebound went straight to a Nelson forward. The Nelson player immediately put up a difficult shot over the hands of Fernie’s defenders. The shot bounced off the rim, off the top of the backboard and back off the rim and out as the buzzer sounded. Fernie had once again won the tournament trophy.
The Falcons are now undefeated in seven consecutive contests and will look to continue their hot start in the New Year.