The Charles Hays junior boys basketball team is getting dialed in as the basketball playoffs approach.
The Junior Rainmakers hosted the 2019 Coastal Clash tournament at Charles Hays Secondary School on Jan. 25 and 26. In addition to Prince Rupert, the tournament included teams from Terrace, Kitimat and Haida Gwaii.
Prince Rupert went 3-0 in the tournament including a comprehensive 68-33 victory over Caledonia in the finals.
Kevin Sawka, the team’s head coach, said the team’s starting five really set the tone at the beginning of the tournament and built leads that allowed other players to get involved.
It also kept his starter fresh going into the finals, which allowed them to play harder when it mattered most.
“They’re probably as strong as any group of five I’ve had,” Sawka said of his starters. “They’re a really fun group to coach. They’re dedicated, they’re holding each other accountable, they’re playing within the offense, they’re playing unselfishly and hitting the open man.”
The tournament finals, Caledonia was able to keep the game close in its opening minutes, but a 10-0 run at the end of the quarter gave the Rainmakers a 19-5 lead going into the second. The team maintained its lead throughout the game, eventually pulling away for the 35-point victory.
Caden Pagens (15), Rylan Adams (14), Chris Wilson (12) and Daylyn Moraes (10) were the game’s high scorers.
A number of players on the team had standout performances throughout the tournament.
Dakota Knockwood, one of the team’s guards, received best defensive player honours. Sawka said Knockwood played a pivotal role in disrupting the opponents offense.
“You figure out who the other team’s best player is and then you put Dakota on that player and then that player disappears,” Sawka said. “If you can make it difficult on the team’s best player every night, you’re going to make it very difficult for that team.”
Sawka also mentioned that Moraes, the team’s point guard, played a very good floor game and has improved his ability to control the offense.
“He’s getting a better understanding of when to push and when not to,” Sawka said. “He’s getting a good understanding of the pace of the game.”
The team next hosts Duchess Park on Friday and Saturday at CHSS in the team’s final games before zones. Sawka said he hopes his team will remain focused going into those games to maintain their momentum before playoffs begin.
“If we’re playing to our full potential, I think we’ve got as good a chance as anyone of winning any game we step into,” he said. “We’re looking quite strong if we can stay disciplined and focused.”
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Matthew Allen | Reporter
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