Chalk up another zone championship for the Charles Hays Secondary School (CHSS) basketball teams, as the senior boys handled Caledonia Secondary School in two games on the weekend for the title.
The best-of-three series never needed a third game, because the Rainmakers were in control the entire time, winning 71-36 on Friday night and 68-45 in the deciding game on Saturday afternoon.
Coach Mel Bishop is happy with the progress the team has been making, especially on the defensive end of things.
“I thought defensively, we were pretty good. The guys are buying into the defensive end of the game, so that’s a good thing. I thought we rebounded well, and I think those are the keys,” Bishop said.
The coach said that kind of defensive play should be a constant and the team should do all right at provincials as long as they focus on that aspect of the game.
Ben Rabel was a key part of the Rainmakers win. He scored eight points on Friday night, but was a real force in the second game, battling hard underneath the basket, consistently snagging rebounds and often scoring on second or third shots. He finished with 25 points and was rewarded with MVP honours.
“He’s such a good rebounder, especially on the offensive board. He gets a lot of second shots and increases our possessions,” Bishop said in praise of Rabel, adding he has dramatically improved in the last few years.
The crowd chanted “MVP, MVP, MVP” as Rabel accepted his award. Dionte Stephens also received a reward for best defensive player. All-Stars went to Caledonia’s Jalen Holland and Solomon Johnson, and the Rainmakers’ Malcolm Brown, Quinn Leighton and Liam McChesney.
Besides some great plays by Rabel, including a nice steal and drive to the basket, the Rainmakers never lost control of the deciding game. The team led 38-16 at the half and kept the pressure on. McChesney showed off his skills with a great block, and Leighton wowed the crowd with an amazing no-look, behind-the-back pass to Kolby Jones, to name a few of the great plays.
On Friday night, the scoring was pretty balanced among the Rainmakers. McChesney and Brown each scored 13 points and Leighton had 10. But on Saturday, Rabel stole the show with his 25 points. No other players reached double digits, but Skyler Wesley and Leighton each hit nine.
The Rainmakers will travel to Langley for provincials, which takes place March 8-11. Bishop has a game plan of how the team can achieve success.
“Just keep up the defensive intensity. Offensively, just have a good time. That’s the fun part of the game, just have a free mind offensively.”