If Justin McChesney’s Under-16 team is any indication, the future is looking pretty bright for B.C. basketball.
The squad took home the gold medal in the Western Canadian Basketball Championships in Edmonton, Alberta last week with McChesney playing centre.
The six-foot-nine Rupertite got a chance to interact and observe the province’s Under-17 team in their tournament held in the same location, often, the pinnacle tourney of youth basketball in Canada.
“Just seeing what’s up next [was good],” said McChesney.
“It’s really opened my eyes to the kind of competition that’s out there and what I need to do to get to the next level.”
McChesney and his good friend, Quinn Mirau an ex-Rupertite now living in Nanaimo, along with Terrace’s Marek Omerod were part of the championship team that defeated Manitoba, 58-41 in the final. But it was B.C.’s first game against the province to the east that tested B.C. who went undefeated with a 6-0 record throughout the tournament.
“We were down against Manitoba the first time we played them by 15 at the half, then we pulled up our socks and picked it up in the second half,” said McChesney.
The squad eventually downed Manitoba 71-69 in their closest game of the week. They beat Nova Scotia by five points in a 73-68 win and won by at least 25 points in their round-robin games, beating the Yukon 73-48, Saskatchewan 88-41 and the hosts Alberta 91-57.
McChesney’s Under-17 counterparts weren’t as fortunate in reaching the podium. B.C. fell to Quebec to collected sixth-place in the competition.
“They were probably one of the most athletic teams there and they were hoping to get in the finals but they lost in a tough game,” McChesney said.
“It’s a lot different than playing for the [Charles Hays] Rainmakers. You’re playing for your province; it’s the best of the best there.”
A haven for school scouts, the tournament, which featured the best players aged 14 to 17 in the country, attracted innumerable interested spectators taking a look at McChesney and his teammates from all parts of the continent.
“I know Denver was there, UBC, lots of Canadian schools,” he said.
Next year, the Grade 11 student will try to beat this year’s team’s sixth-place finish in the Under-17s.
“I think I just need to work on my body getting stronger and getting quick enough to play three [small forward] and guard a three.”