Titans head to Langley with repeat in mind

Win or lose, it's highly unlikely Maya Olynyk and Emma Wolfram will be teammates again after this weekend.

What a run they've had.

Olynyk and Wolfram are ready to lead the South Kamloops Titans into the provincial senior AAA girls basketball championship in Langley. The Titans, who are ranked No. 1, will open today against the Cranbrook-Mount Baker Wild.

South Kam heads into the provincial tournament as the favourite, thanks, in large part, to the play of Olynyk and Wolfram, its only two seniors. Wolfram, a 6-foot-4 centre, and Olynyk, a 5-foot-11 guard, have lifted a young Titans team all season.

It's not the first time.

In 2010, they helped South Kam's junior team to a provincial title. The next year, playing on South Kam's senior team as Grade 10s, they helped the Titans to a surprising third-place finish at provincials.

Just last year, they were a big part of the Titans' provincial championship, in which Wolfram was MVP and top defensive player, and Olynyk was a tournament all-star.

But it all ends this week, regardless of what happens.

"It's definitely sad, but it will be sweet in that hopefully they can culminate it with a championship," said proud father Ken Olynyk, who coaches the Titans alongside Sean Lamoureux, Corey Yamaoka and Jane Wolfram, Emma's mother. "They've played on all those good (Titans) teams together and on provincial teams - they've had quite a run."

Emma Wolfram is scheduled to play with the NCAA's Gonzaga Bulldogs in Spokane next season, while Maya Olynyk will head to Saskatoon to play for the CIS's Saskatchewan Huskies.

And as sad as it will be when it ends, Olynyk and Wolfram are focused on what lies ahead this week.

If South Kam manages to beat the 16th-ranked Wild, it would set up a possible quarterfinal matchup against the Port Coquitlam-Riverside Rapids. South Kam hasn't played the Rapids this season, but beat them in a provincial semifinal in 2012 and a provincial quarterfinal in 2011.

The Rapids should be a fan favourite at the tournament, with the Langley Events Centre not too far from Port Coquitlam. Same can be said for the second-ranked Brookswood Bobcats, who call Langley home.

"It's an interesting one for us," Ken Olynyk said. "It should help the valley teams, like Brookswood and Riverside, in getting people to the games. It should be interesting playing . . . against very partisan crowds."

And in case anyone thought it was going to be easy, there's also the pressure of being the No. 1-ranked team - and the defending champion. A lot of that pressure is coming from the Titans themselves.

"Last year, we went in as the (fifth)-ranked team . . . and we were looking at making the top-four and hopefully getting in the medals," Olynyk said. "This year, (we've been) ranked No. 1 for a portion of the year. . . .

"But we definitely have higher expectations . . . and that can be both positive and negative."

* * *

The Valleyview Vikings will open junior boys provincials today in Vancouver.

The Vikings, despite winning the Okanagan championship, are ranked No. 14 heading into the tournament, and will have to play an opening-round game to make it into the 16-team bracket. Valleyview is to open against the Vancouver-Killarney Cougars in the tournament-opener today.

The winner of that game will move into a playoff game with the No. 3 Pitt Meadows Marauders on Thursday.

The tournament's top 10 seeds are from the Lower Mainland or Vancouver Island. The Prince George-D.P. Todd Trojans are ranked 11th, while all three of the Okanagan teams are ranked in the bottom six, and will have to play wild-card games to simply make the top 16.

The championship final is scheduled for Saturday.

The Vikings opened the 2012 tournament as the No. 12 seed, and ended up 15th.


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