As the lone Grade 12 player on the Valleyview Vikings senior boys basketball team, there's no chance that Kyle Klynsoon will be left out of the fun.
Klynsoon had 24 points as the Vikings opened the Fulton Cup preseason city championship with a 77-65 victory over the St. Ann's Crusaders at the Tournament Capital Centre on Wednesday.
Valleyview will meet the NorKam Saints in a semifinal at the TCC today, 4:45 p.m., while St. Ann's drops to the consolation side to play the Chase Trojans at TRU Gym at noon.
Although Klynsoon is the lone senior on the Vikings' squad, he's just as fresh as the Grade 11 players who comprise the rest of the roster. Klynsoon had spent his high school career with the South Kamloops Titans, but moved into Valleyview's catchment area over the summer.
"This school is giving me something I've never had," Klynsoon said. "I never had a leadership role at a AAA school (South Kam) . . . but coming in here, being a co-captain with a good young squad - you can't go wrong."
The Vikings play in the AA West Zone, down a level from South Kam, which plays AAA.
Klynsoon was excellent yesterday, driving hard and rebounding well as Valleyview knocked off the defending-champion Crusaders, who play A basketball.
"He had a good game, and that's what you want from your leaders," said Vikings head coach Brynden Swint. "He's our one Grade 12. He has to go out there and battle on the boards and he probably put up a double-double tonight."
But Klynsoon was just a piece in what was a gutsy effort from a young Vikings squad.
Valleyview, despite all its Grade 11 players, had a swagger that suggested that it wasn't going to be pushed around. The Vikings looked confident throughout, and they didn't hesitate for a second to go inside and get dirty.
"We're not a shy bunch," Swint said. "This is a confident group of Grade 11s - they had a great season as juniors. They're very athletic and they're not shy about working hard."
Layton Demidoff was outstanding for the Vikings, scoring 27 points, including a whole bunch off offensive rebounds. Reece Vermey also scored eight points in the victory.
"I'm still getting to know everyone," Klynsoon said, "but these Grade 11s like to work hard."
Michael Mayhew had 21 points to lead the Crusaders, with Jeeven Bains scoring 17 and Anthony Splane adding 12.
Mayhew, a Grade 11 guard, showed some great energy and fancy moves, while Bains hit a three-pointer at the end of the third quarter that tied the game and looked like it could turn the momentum.
No way, said the Vikings, who pulled away in the fourth quarter.
"Jeeven is a great player . . . he'll make those shots and you just have to live with it," Swint said. "You can't get down just because someone makes a shot like that - I've seen him in practice, and he makes a lot of those shots."
For results and a schedule, please see Scoreboard.