With just one Grade 12 on the roster, the Port Coquitlam-based B.C. Christian Academy Panthers are quickly, and not so quietly, establishing a reputation as a senior boys basketball program on the prowl of perfection.
The Panthers stood toe-to-toe and shot-for-shot against the No. 3-ranked Unity Christian Flames in the Fraser Valley championship final last week.
While it ended in a 59-56 decision for Unity, the Panthers gathered a lot of information from the tournament that they can implement at next week's provincial championships in Langley.
It was a last-second three-point shot for Unity that broke a 56-56 tie in the final, earning the Chilliwack-based Christian school the title.
But midway through the fourth quarter, B.C. Christian had assumed an eight-point lead off back-to-back treys from Keenan Dowell, a lead they'd hold until the final three minutes.
The Flames took advantage of four straight turnovers to tie the score, and then with less than four seconds left in regulation sent up a shot that beat the buzzer.
It was a very spirited affair, with the Panthers getting 20 points from Dean Johnston and 17 from Dowell.
In their previous meeting, B.C. Christian pulled out a solid 13-point victory, but were unable to make the adjustments against Unity's half-court zone over the second half.
The loss will provide ample fuel for the squad as it enters next week's provincials in Langley.
Earlier in the tourney, the Panthers beat No. 4 Credo Christian 80-48 to advance to the final.
Johnston scored 17 points in the first half and finished with a school-high 43 on the day. Kosia Cauw and Dowell were integral parts to Johnston's offensive success, as Cauw drew numerous assists, while Dowell dominated from the perimeter, cashing in 15 points of his own.