2016 BC Winter Games

North Shore Wildcats basketball athletes strike gold at BC Games!

Vancouver-Coastal Zone 5 basketball team defends title at the 2016 BC Winter Games

The Vancouver-Coastal Zone 5 team added to a winning tradition by going undefeated and capturing the gold medal in the Special Olympics basketball event at the Penticton 2016 BC Winter Games.

With the victory, the Zone 5 Special Olympics basketball team secured back-to-back gold medals, having also finished atop the podium with a perfect record at the Mission 2014 BC Winter Games.The 2014 tournament marked the first time SOBC basketball players competed at BC Games.

Jimmy Peterson, Assistant Coach of the Zone 5 team, says he is proud of how the team performed at the event.
“Most rewarding was the athletes’ resilience, and tied into that, most memorable has to be the championship game and the way our athletes competed after a great start by Zone 8. What was awesome was how the players dialed in on their strengths rather than becoming rattled and trying to do too much,” said Peterson.

Competition in the BC Games Special Olympics basketball event ran from February 26 to 28. On the first day, the Zone 5 team defeated the Cariboo-North East Zone 8 team and the Fraser River Zone 4 team to win Pool B. On day two, Zone 5 secured its spot in the championship game by handing a 48-30 defeat to the Zone 4 team, who went on to win the bronze medal. Finally, on day three, Zone 5 secured the gold medal by defeating Zone 8 in a thrilling final game by a score of 25-19.

At BC Games, SOBC athletes join teammates from their respective regions to represent their home zones. The Zone 5 team was comprised of SOBC – North Shore athletes DJ Gilbert, Erol Gunenc, Joshua Moon, Kendrick Lim, Nick Kellof, Pierce Burns, Sangeon Yoo, Steve Schoeller, Tyrone Liebenberg and Richmond athlete Andrew Weale. The team was led by Head Coach Zak Klein and Assistant Coaches Peterson and Luke Harris. SOBC – North Shore coach Hamid Khatami was loaned to the Zone 3 team for BC Games.

Burns, Liebenberg, and Yoo also played on the Zone 5 team that won the gold medal in 2014.

Zone 5 team captain Nick Kellof said it was an amazing experience to represent Special Olympics at the BC Games.
“It means the world to me,” said Kellof. “A number of years ago I was considering retiring from SOBC, when our Local Coordinator Kelly Klein called me and asked if I’d be interested in playing basketball. I joined and I haven’t looked back since. I look forward to many more years of basketball.”

SOBC athletes have been competing in athletics and swimming at the generic BC Games for 12 years. SOBC participation expanded to the BC Winter Games with the introduction of basketball in 2014 and continued with basketball and the addition of figure skating in 2016.