The West Vancouver Highlanders charged to the provincial championships with a powerful performance at last week’s Howe Sound senior boys AAAA basketball championships held at Handsworth Secondary.
They may have been the second-ranked team coming in to the tournament but the Highlanders acted like top dogs throughout the competition, scoring three straight wins, including two over top-seeded Handsworth, to win the title.
In the championship-clinching game the Highlanders and Royals were neck-and-neck all the way through, with the Royals holding a slim 44-42 advantage heading into the fourth quarter. The Highlanders, however, grabbed the lead with a timely 9-2 run and held on for a 62-59 win.
West Van got a monster performance from forward Parsa Zadeh, who put up 14 points with 16 rebounds and six blocks on his way to earning tournament MVP honours. His teammate Marcus Dunn earned the Quinn Keast Player of the Final Game award with 19 points, while Callum Dye and James Core also starred for the Highlanders, earning tournament all-star spots. Handsworth’s Merek Van Bylandt and Zach Watters also earned all-star honours, along with Carson Graham’s Aamir Rajwani.
The Highlanders are coached by Ken Krohman and Rob Ross along with Jamie Rees and Trevor Clarke, two West Van graduates who themselves played at the provincial championships in the 2000s. The graduating Grade 12 players for the Highlanders are Core, Dunn, Dye, Simone Ceolin, Connor Chapman, Logan Copeland, and George Fu.
The Highlanders said they were honoured to win the Brian Upson Memorial Trophy, awarded each year to the Howe Sound champs. Upson was a long-time West Van coach who died just two weeks after guiding the Highlanders to their first ever provincial title in 1982.
This will be the 29th appearance for West Van at AAAA provincial Championships, third most all-time behind only Vancouver College and Oak Bay. Provincials run March 6-9 at Langley Events Centre.