After 58 years, that provincial crown in double-A basketball is especially sweet for the Mission Roadrunners, who beat their archrivals, the St. Thomas More Knights, 70-58 in the championship final Saturday in Kamloops.
"We really didn't know how good we were," said assistant coach Jim Pearce. "[We] didn't play any double-A schools this year [in tournament play]."
Ironically, it was the Knights who handed the Roadrunners one of their earlier defeats last fall, but it was not enough to tarnish the 32-5 record that made Mission the No. 1 ranked team in B.C. going in.
The win was also sweet for the majority of the team, who came back after losing a heartbreaker in overtime in the provincial final last year.
"Our kids never got rattled," said Pearce of this season's effort. "They were very patient, [they] played so many triple-A teams over the years and could handle a lot of adversity."
Some of that adversity came early in the tournament as Mission fell behind in their second game against Duchess Park but came back to win 66-60. Then they were down in Friday's match against Brentwood before rallying for a 53-43 final score.
"Defence really was the factor, we played such great defence that allowed us to stay in all games," said Pearce.
"We had great athletes on our team." In Saturday's final at Thompson Rivers University, Mission led 32-31 at the half before outscoring the Knights 16-5 in the third quarter, with forward Rhys Parry scoring eight of his 13 points when it counted most.
Senior guard Luc Comeau led the scoring with 19, while Luc Morris put up 11.
"I'm just so proud of the boys. They deserve to win because they put so much time in. It didn't just happen," said Pearce, who also praised his coaching staff of head coach Danny Jakobs and assistant coach Peter Morris. All three have worked year round with the team for several years. Luke Morris was named tournament MVP, Luc Comeau was the top defensive player, Morris and Rhys Parry were named first team all-stars and Comeau was a second team all-star. Mission Secondary can now boast being the first school in B.C. to win a provincial championship in both basketball and football in the same season.
The Roadrunners brought home the football title last December when they beat the John Barsby Bulldogs 16-12 in the final at BC Place.