The Cedars Christian School Eagles weren't supposed to contend for a spot in provincials.
But thanks to a remarkable run of success at the zone championship tournament, they will in fact hit the court against B.C.'s best.
The Eagles senior boys basketball team entered last weekend's zone playoff, held in Dawson Creek, seeded seventh out of eight clubs. The Eagles, however, proved the prognosticators wrong and finished with silver medals. As one of the top two teams, they advanced to the single-A provincials, March 6-9 at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford.
Cedars secured a berth in the provincial tournament when it beat second-seeded Mountain Christian School, from Dawson Creek, 60-56 in comeback fashion in the semifinal round. The Eagles -- who had lost 60-41 to Mountain Christian in their tournament-opener -- trailed the semifinal 21-10 after the first quarter and 36-19 at the half. After a big third quarter, Cedars was down by just three and was able to keep its momentum going in the fourth, outscoring Mountain Christian 41-20. In the game, the Eagles were led offensively by twins Jenkin and Jayden Wilson, who poured in 22 and 19 points respectively.
The semifinal victory marked the Eagles' fourth consecutive do-or-die triumph in the double-knockout tournament.
In what was a mean-nothing final for the exhausted Eagles, they fell 73-37 to top-ranked Northside Christian School of Vanderhoof.
After losing their first game at zones, the Eagles reeled off victories against third-seeded Tumbler Ridge (58-29), fourth-ranked Sir Alexander Mackenzie of Bella Coola (83-82 in overtime) and sixth-ranked Acwsalcta, also from Bella Coola, 79-33.
The game that went to OT was a thriller. In it, the Eagles trailed Sir Alexander Mackenzie 35-29 at the half but led by one with five seconds left in regulation. A foul shot by Alexander Mackenzie sent the contest to extra time and Cedars finally won on a free throw by Landon Uy with 1.8 seconds left. The Eagles got 28 points from Jayden Wilson and 20 out of the hands of Thomas Anton.
During zones, Cedars shooters were at their best. They scored more than 40 points in every game, something they struggled to do all season in the Prince George city league. Cedars coach Aaron Brouwer said his team's city league involvement was a big factor in getting the Eagles to provincials.
"Playing against double-A and triple-A schools challenged us to play better, as we were always playing against stronger opponents," Brouwer said. "Growing from playing against these bigger schools helped give us confidence to play in any situation."