South-end team dominates zone competition

  • Mar. 10, 2011 5:00 a.m.

By Alex Rinfret–The Queen Charlotte Secondary junior boys basketball team dominated the competition at a late February tournament in Terrace, bringing home the school’s first basketball banner in many years. The team, made up of grade 8, 9 and 10 students, had decisive victories in all three of its games at the Northwest Junior B Zones, said manager Kris Olsen. First came a 56-36 win over rivals at Bulkley Valley Christian School. Then, the boys downed Houston Secondary 62-30, and went on to thrash Charles Hays 69-50. Joel Richardson, who celebrated his 16th birthday on the final day, was named the most valuable player of the entire tournament, Mr. Olsen said, while Brandon Gibbard was the tournament high scorer and was named to the all-star team. “We dominated,” Mr. Olsen said. “They showed a level of play that blew me away.” The team had more than 30 fans in the audience for its first game, he said, after all the QCSS ski trip participants showed up at Thornhill Junior Secondary. This is a rarity for islands teams, who usually have to play in front of spectators cheering for their opponents, and Mr. Olsen said it made a difference. “We pulled the fan card,” he said. “They all came and cheered us on.” There are two main reasons for the team’s success, he explained. First was the decision to combine the Queen Charlotte Secondary team with the Skidegate Junior Saints team, coached by Desi Collinson. The combined team has been practising in Skidegate since November under Mr. Collinson’s guidance, Mr. Olsen said. This meant students didn’t have to choose between the school team and the community team. “This wouldn’t have happened without Desi Collinson,” Mr. Olsen said. “The Inlet community – it works so well together. We’re stronger together.” The other factor, he said, is that the team has no “stars” but is filled with equally powerful players who can all pass and score. “It’s a full team, we’re working on unselfish ball play,” he said. “What was really exciting about this team was everyone scored… Our bench is really, really strong.” Ten boys played on the banner-winning team: Cavanaugh Alton, Jesse Barnes, Cole Cross, Nolan O’Brien, Joel Richardson, Nathan Vogstad, Kieran Yeltatzie, Grant Moody, Staas Guujaaw and Brandon Gibbard. Remarkably, the Terrace tournament was the boys’ opening opportunity to play other teams, rather than practising among themselves. “This was our first and only tournament all season,” Mr. Olsen said, explaining that the team had been set to participate in another tournament two weeks previously, but had to miss it when the ferry was delayed. If they had been able to attend and win that one, they might have been able to go on to the provincial tourney, he said. Most of the team will get another chance to play during spring break, when they go to the Junior All-Native in Penticton, Mr. Olsen said. The team’s two non-Haida members won’t be able to play but will be attending with the rest of the team and sitting on the bench with their teammates, he said. Meanwhile, Mr. Olsen foresees a great future for the QCSS team, with lots of younger players waiting in the wings. “This team is going to be working hard and developing,” he said. “We are doing right with our basketball program.”

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