LANGLEY – If there was a heart-and-soul force on the floor at the Langley Events Centre on Friday night during the Tsumura Basketball Invitational Super 16’s semifinal round, chances are he was wearing the No. 13 jersey of the Kelowna Owls.
Leading with his heart and playing with an unrestrained purpose, there was no denying just how big the Owls’ 6-foot-1 Grade 11 point guard Nash Semeniuk really was.
Trusting his handle, Semeniuk got anywhere he needed to go as Kelowna limited the defending B.C. Quad-A champs to just 17 total points through the second and third quarters en route to a 74-65 victory and a berth in Saturday’s (8:30 p.m.) final against Victoria’s Oak Bay Bays.
“This is my year, man,” smiled the affable Semeniuk, who led all scorers on the night with 24 points. “We gonna work. We’re a team that is just coming up now so nobody knows about us.”
Despite the fact they are one of the last decades most enduring senior boys programs and can lay claim, along with programs like Burnaby South and Walnut Grove, to calling the LEC a personal home sweet home every March, the core of head coach Harry Parmar’s team is not filled with household names.
Yet with repeated watchings, these Owls are showing they are worthy of being prime time players, and within that cast Semeniuk a leading man.
On Friday, a Burnaby South team going through its own kind of re-defining came out of the first quarter with a 23-14 lead.
Yet the Owls put the clamps on defensively over the ensuing two quarters, limiting the Rebels to just six made field goals over that span.
And while all of that was taking place, Semeniuk was keying his charges, including the formerly unknown 6-foot-11 senior post Will Keyes, who finished with 14 points, his lowest total of the tournament but no indication of the effectiveness his shot-making and mere presence on the court now bring.
On the game, Aryton Daniels added 13 and Walker Sodaro another 10. Burnaby Central got 19 from Grade 11 forward Lordrikk Gutierrez, 11 from Malik Hussein and and nine off a trio of treys from Lex Paloma.
Afterwards, Semeniuk raved about the chemistry he’s found with the big man Keyes.
“Oh my God he is such a nice guy off the court, and we had an immediate connection,” continued Semeniuk. “He makes it pretty easy for me to run good stuff. And he’s really been working hard in the gym. That’s what I love about him.”
Yet how about Semeniuk himself.
The surname? Sounds familiar, right?
Yup, a first family of Kelowna basketball.
Dad Darren Semeniuk, a former Owl, was a B.C. high school star in the same era as the likes of Pitt Meadows’ Scott Walton, Pat Cannon of Alberni District, STM’s Dom Zimmerman, Steveston’s Novell Thomas, Bret Anderson at Terry Fox and of course, you know who!
Semeniuk later played for the legendary Don Horwood at the University of Alberta.
Mom Sara Semeniuk, an Edmonton-Sherwood Park grad who met Darren while she played soccer with the Golden Bears.
But what about that number choice? No. 13?
“I did that as the year started,” he says of his numeral of choice.
“And what about that name of your’s… Nash?”
“He’s my favourite player and he always will be,” Semeniuk says of Steve Nash, for whom he was named. “My dad actually played with him, one year, on the B.C. Under 15 or 16 team.”
As our new basketball season begins, a new wave of stars is putting its talents on display for us all to soak up.
On Friday, 31 years after I wrote about his dad, it was fun to watch Nash Semeniuk do his stuff on the court for the Kelowna Owls.
And truth be told, it was even more fun to chat him up after the contest and realize just how much tradition lives in our great game.
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