* This story has been updated
SURREY — Players with the Khalsa Lions senior boys basketball team were excited about this week’s provincial championships, which had the fifth-seed team taking on Fort St. James to start the tournament on Wednesday (March 7).
The 2018 BC Boys Basketball tourney will be played at Langley Events Centre, and Surrey’s Khalsa Lions, representing one of the smaller schools involved, are part of the 1A tournament.
Lions coach Doug Wong said his team would not look past the first game, which had them playing against the tournament’s 12th-seed team.
“When we take things easy,” he said. “We are an average team but when we play our way and do the right things, we are a tough team to play against.”
On Wednesday afternoon, Khalsa took care of business with an opening-round win over Fort St. James, 79-42.
The tourney continues until Saturday’s championship games.
The 49th edition of the tournament will also feature other Surrey teams, including Pacific Academy and Southridge in the 2A draw and Clayton Heights in the 3A tourney. Four Surrey-based teams – Lord Tweedsmuir, Tamanawis, Holy Cross and Semiahmoo – are in the 4A tourney.
The Lions had a strong season so far, with 25 wins and eight losses, and won two of the three matches in the 2018 Fraser Valley 1A Zone tournament to qualify for the provincials.
Wong said the team is happy with its successful season to date, but that there’s some work to do for the Lions.
“Only two of the losses have come against ‘A’ teams, while the other losses have come against AA, AAA or AAAA schools,” he said.
Wong believes that many teams look past the Lions, and that they don’t get the respect they deserve.
“I could be wrong. I just feel that sometimes the teams look past us,” Wong said. “We are just that little school. It’s also because this is only our third year of having senior students.”
Wong said it’s a huge accomplishment for the Khalsa school to have only a senior boys basketball team and make it to the provincials for two of three years they have competed.
“I think the boys play with a little bit of an edge because sometimes they feel that they don’t get the respect they deserve,” Wong said. “We want to make the teams feel, ‘That is a good basketball team,’ after each game.”
According to Wong, Khalsa Lions has lost a lot of talent to big schools like Tamanawis, Panorama Ridge and Semiahmoo.
“If we still had those kids, we would be competitive with anybody,” he said.
With close to 90 per cent of his players in Grade 12 this year, and graduating soon, Wong said he asked the team to enjoy the provincial tournament this week.
“We are kind of a family here and this means a lot,” Wong said. “We are doing it for all the Sikh and Punjabi people in our community. We are representing Khalsa as a whole.”
Wong said the school has had a great journey, and that he is really proud and honoured to be part of the journey.
“I have been coaching for a long, long time, and this is my 17th year of coaching,” Wong said. “These last two years are probably the most rewarding for me as a coach.”