It took two games to achieve it, but the Charles Hays Secondary School (CHSS) Junior Boys basketball team beat their Terrace-competitors 47-37 in the second final of the 2014 Northwest Zone Championship hosted at CHSS.
“I’m really proud of the guys … everybody on the court gave it their all. They all had something they needed to ice down after,” said Kevin Sawka, who has coached the team for 14 years and earned the team’s tenth Northwest Zone Championship over the weekend.
Going into zones the Rainmakers were ranked No. 1 in the region, winning their first game against Queen Charlotte Secondary School (QCSS) 71-34 for a spot in the A bracket semi-final. Meanwhile, Terrace’s Caledonia Secondary School beat Lax Kw’alaams’ Coast Tsimshian Academy 51-39 to play against Rupert.
QCSS scraped by 54-53 against Coast Tsimshian Academy to play in the loser’s bracket semi-final, which the Rainmakers forced Terrace into after beating them 45-34.
Caledonia bounced back, winning 44-32 against Queen Charlotte for another go against Prince Rupert. Because the team was entering the final through the loser’s bracket, Caledonia would have to defeat CHSS twice to win zones.
In the first final on Saturday, the Rainmakers surpassed the Caledonia Kermodes in the second quarter and narrowly maintained the lead at halftime with 22-17.
By the third quarter’s end, the Kermodes led with 33-29, with the teams fighting for first throughout the fourth quarter. With under 20 seconds left in the game, it appeared Caledonia had won by a two-point lead, but CHSS’ Nicolis Campbell sunk two free throws to tie the game and add three minutes to the clock.
Despite the extra time, CHSS lost 48-45; Campbell scored 15 points of the Rainmakers’ points, with Mitchell Nelson earning 11 and George Mason nine.
The Rainmakers came back with more energy and focus in the second final, earning an 18-4 lead by the first quarter’s end.
CHSS held their advantage throughout the game, which ended 47-37 in their favour.
Campbell was once again the highest shooter with 14 points, significantly higher than other players.
“Nick played big. I was really proud of him,” Sawka said.
The Rainmakers’ George Mason was named the Most Valuable Player of the Northwest Zone Championship, with CHSS’ Campbell and Quinn Leighton, Caledonia’s Dylan King and Gabriel Johnson and Coast Tsimshian Academy’s Kaine Wesley named all-stars.
The Rainmakers are now eligible to compete with 24 other teams in the 2014 BCHSBBA Junior Boys Invitational Provincial Tournament in Langley later this month, entering with an honourable mention as a top 14 ranked junior boys team in B.C. The Rainmakers first game at provincials will be on Feb. 26.