Goodwin makes a big point, guard leads Owls past Kits and into semifinals
Thursday, December 8, 2011 – Submitted by Howard Tsumura, The Province
Kelowna point guard Mitch Goodwin (left) feels the defensive heat of Kitsilano’s Stewart Annan on Thursday during Telus Classic quarters in Vancouver. (Jason Payne, PNG)
The most amazing thing about watching Mitch Goodwin weave his magic on the basketball court Thursday afternoon was to realize that the player who many call the most accomplished point guard in the B.C. high school ranks, was actually just starting to dust the rust off his game.
As he led his No. 9-ranked Owls to a 68-61 victory over the No. 6-ranked and host Kitsilano Blue Demons in the quarterfinal tound of the Telus Basketball Classic, Goodwin was doing the kinds of things with a basketball that players who don’t practice for two weeks because of provincial Triple A volleyball tournament committments could never dream of pulling off.
Nevermind the game-high 14 points he scored to move the Owls into a semifinal contest today (5:45 p.m.) against the St. George’s Saints, he was simply unstoppable down the stretch drive of the contest, breaking all measure of pressure and traps and getting into the open floor where his next-level vision and passing made all of his teammates so much better.
In fact with Goodwin at volleyball provincials last week, Kelowna, which started the season at No. 1 in The Province’s Big 10 rankings, dropped back-to-back road games to both Port Coquitlam’s Terry Fox (68-46) and Langley’s Walnut Grove (69-48), precipitating an early tumble down the rankings.
“If we had him, I don’t know if we would have lost those first two games,” Kelowna head coach Harry Parmar stated after the win over Kits, one in which Goodwin was surely into double digits in assists. “Not even counting what he scores, he makes at least a 30-point difference for us overall because he just makes everything easier for our other kids.”
On Thursday, the Blue Demons got great guard play from the likes of Kyle Holden, Tom Campbell and Stewan Annan, and physical post play from Luka Zaharijevic.
Yet it was the assured confidence Goodwin showed, making skip passes and behind-the-back feeds at the highest tempo, which made the Owls so dangerous.
That, and the fact that 7-foot Braxston Bunce is a load for any team to try and contain inside, and you get scenarios that unfolded down a fourth quarter stretch Wednesday that ended up being the game’s turning point.
After Kitsilano’s David Burton scored a baseline layin with 8:31 remaining to pull the Blue Demons to within 55-54, Goodwin assumed the game’s reigns over a stretch in which the Owls went on a modest 11-4 run to lead 64-58 with 2:21 remaining. The thing to note about the run is that other than the Austin Axenty layin which capped it, all of the Owls points came from the free throw line because Goodwin was so in control of finding teammates in the paint, or else driving to the rim himself.
“If we didn’t have Mitch, it would be tough to get the big fella the ball,” said Parmar, referring to Bunce, who scored 12 points. “(Goodwin) is the general. He is the guy that runs this team and he never wants to come off the floor.”
Until the late surge, the game was an absolute war.
Kitsilano head coach Randy Coutts subbed Holden into the game towards the end of the first quarter, and the senior was a difference maker, knocking down a pair of treys en route to scoring a team-high nine points at the half. Kelowna led 34-33 at the break, however, as Goodwin scored five of his team’s final seven points, including a layin off a great baseline cut with four seconds left.
Kelowna forward Buzz Truss, who matched Goodwin’s total with 14, scored nine points in a span of just under three minutes during a 14-0 third-quarter Owls’ run which put Kelowna on top 50-40. The Blue Demons, however, answered with a 13-2 run of their own, setting the stage for the fourth quarter.
“From what I am hearing, we’re a lot better than we were last week,” Goodwin said of the improved team play that started with an 88-81 win over Surrey’s Tamanawis Wildcats in the opening round of play Wednesday. “We are getting more cohesive. Tomorrow night (in the semfinals), if we get St. George’s, we can keep trying to get better. But March 17, that is the night that we have to be the best we’ve ever been.”
Of course, that’s the date of the championship final of the B.C. Triple A tournament in Langley. But before that, the Owls will indeed face St. George’s, which came through with a 69-64 win over Sir Charles Tupper.
TELUS BASKETBALL CLASSIC
Kelowna 68 Kitsilano 61
St. George’s 69 Sir Charles Tupper 64
Vancouver College 74 Burnaby South 51
Pitt Meadows 59 Windsor 42
York House 78 Seycove 69
Handsworth 76 New Westminster 73
Britannia 65 Argyle 48
Riverside 63 Centennial 45
(At Vancouver-Sir Winston Churchill)
5:45 p.m. — St. George’s vs. Kelowna
7:30 p.m. — Vancouver College vs. Pitt Meadows
2:15 p.m. — Britannia vs. Riverside
4 p.m. — Handsworth vs. York House