SMITHERS — An array of talent — fueled by the lingering regret of falling one game short of the state tournament last year — has elevated the Valley Greyhounds to new levels all season long.
Thus, the Greyhounds surely didn’t want to miss out on the big party once again.
In a Class A Region 3 co-final Wednesday before a raucous crowd at Valley High School, the host Greyhounds were the aggressor all evening, securing an 82-63 victory to deny defending Class A champion Tug Valley a chance to repeat.
The win earned Valley its first boys state tournament appearance since the 2003-04 season.
“This means a lot to us,” said Valley senior Donte Wilkerson, who collected eight points on the night. “We came up short last year, and this year we knew what we wanted and (went after it).
“We came out on fire tonight and played to the best of our ability.”
The Greyhounds never trailed, breaking away from an early 5-4 lead and owning a 22-12 lead after the first quarter on Zac Warden’s 3-pointer off a Raeshawn Breckenridge assist with 30 seconds left.
Pushing the pace and attacking the basket, the ‘Hounds led by 15 points, 27-12, before the Panthers pulled to within eight points, 32-24, on Aaron Copley’s bucket in the lane with 2:24 left in the half.
But, as it would do throughout the game, Valley answered and held Tug Valley at bay. A Druw Bowen putback was followed by another Warden trey and a Breckenridge freebie, making it 38-24 with slightly under a minute left.
The Panthers had another surge left in them, following the inside play of Thomas Baisden to trim a 52-28 Valley cushion to 15 points, 55-40, with eight minutes remaining in the contest.
The ‘Hounds responded yet again, getting a putback and a driving lay-in by Breckenridge, followed by a Bowen deuce off a Warden feed and a Keyshawn Payne two-pointer, to push the margin to 63-40 with about 6:00 to play.