Junior boys win NorthWest Zone championship
Charles Hays Secondary School (CHSS) will be hanging another banner in its gymnasium after a dominant zone championship by the junior boys basketball team this weekend.
The Rainmakers went 3-0, beating Mount Elizabeth Secondary School (MESS) and then Caledonia Secondary School (CSS) twice for the win, which qualifies them to advance to provincials in Langley later this month.
"We do our homework. We try to break stuff down as much as we can and work on that stuff until it's habit as much as we can make it," coach Kevin Sawka said about the tournament.
Sawka said he has been happier with the Rainmakers' improved defence lately as well, which is something he has been preaching to the group.
"It's more of our system stuff defensively in terms of how we guard the ball, how we're guarding screenaways and stuff like that," he said.
He also noted better rebounding and guys going after the basketball.
The tournament opened on Friday afternoon, with the Rainmakers up against MESS, and easily beating them 99-15. Kai Leighton dropped 23 points in the first half and 27 points overall in the beatdown. Colby Stephens also scored 11.
On Friday evening, the team took on CAL in a scrappy game. Leading 34-12 at halftime, the Rupert squad took a more defensive approach in the second half to win 53-24. Scoring was more balanced in this one, with Stephens scoring 11, Leighton with seven and several others with single digits as well.
After CAL defeated MESS to set up a rematch for the zone title, the Rainmakers wasted no time in setting up for a big win by outscoring CAL 20-0 in the first quarter. The team was converting on its opportunities and making its shots while also defending well.
The Rainmakers went on to a 64-27 win to claim the NorthWest Zone banner.
Leighton was named MVP of the tournament, while Lees, Brendan Eshom and Jones were named All-Stars.
It will take everything they've got against bigger schools at provincials, but Sawka thinks this year's team might have what it takes.
"Whoever plays us at provs has got to be ready for our physicality. We worked a lot on that," he said, adding that was a problem last year.
Provincials are from March 25-28.