Kai Leighton feeds a pass to a waiting Brendan Eshom during first half action in the Rainmakers home opener against Caledonia. Charles Hays took full advantage of their boisterous home crowd, coming away with a 95-62 victory. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

Rainmakers start defence of home court with a splash

The rain was coming down outside and on the court as Charles Hays ran over Caledonia

It took a few days longer than expected, but on a rainy Wednesday night in Rupert the Senior Rainmakers boys basketball home opener finally got underway with a resounding 95-62 win over the visiting Caledonia Kermodes.

The game had originally been scheduled to go on the evening of Dec. 13, but Caledonia’s bus encountered problems on the trip from Terrace. The team safely made it on Wednesday though, allowing the reigning AA provincial champions to play their first game on home court since capturing the B.C. title back in March.

It was the visitors who came out with some early pop, jumping to a quick 8-4 lead. It didn’t take long for the Rainmakers to settle in however, and they were able to pull back in front 19-16 after the opening quarter. That was the closest it would be for the rest of the game, as Charles Hays exploded on a 21-5 run to start the second quarter to open their lead up to 40-21. They would go into halftime up 49-31, Kai Leighton leading the way in points with 13 followed by Rylan Adams with six.

Tyler Jones of the Rainmakers looks for an offensive option as Caledonia’s Brody McKay looks for a stop. Head coach Mel Bishop and assistant coach Ryan Bishop call out directions in the background. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

Xander Gerritsen wonders what his foul call could possibly be for. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

There was no letup from the Rainmakers out of the break as they ran up their lead to more than 30 points by the final whistle. Leighton would remain as the top scorer with 23, Adams and Tyler Jones finished with 15 points each, and Caden Pagens chipped in 14. Cole Ouellet was the high points man for the visitors with 13.

“I thought offensively we were very good, we moved the ball well and the shot selection was pretty good,” Rainmakers head coach Mel Bishop said following the game. “But on the defensive end we were beaten on the board sometimes. There was some middle penetration given up that we’re trying to eliminate. We want to contain guys and keep guys in front so we don’t have to rotate the help. It wasn’t a bad game, but we still have a lot of stuff to work on,” Bishop added on areas that need addressing.

READ MORE: Prince Rupert students spend a day in someone else’s chair

I could do this with my eyes closed… Daylyn Moody-Moraes and Kai Leighton position themselves on defence as Caledonia’s Nahlin Jack looks for an opening. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

Bishop had plenty of individual accolades to go around. “Kai Leighton is so solid, he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and he’s very calm. Tyler [Jones] is so explosive, he creates havoc. Rylan Adams started shooting better, and he was better defensively in the second half, I thought he did a better job keeping guys in front. He can really shoot the ball too,” Bishop said. “Caden [Pagens] is coming off an injury, he hasn’t trained for about a week and a half, but I thought he played well. Brendan Esham is solid defensively.”

Brendan Eshom drives the ball against defender Milan Dhesi of Caledonia. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

The senior squad will be one of several Rainmaker teams to hit the court in the Jim Ciccone Memorial Rainmaker Alumni Tournament, set to take place Dec. 20-21. The senior boys will be up first against the 2017-19 members of the Charles Hays team, followed by another game on opening day against the Junior Rainmakers.

“It should be good because they’re playing older guys. It’s physical, those guys are stronger,” Bishop said of the opportunity. “If we guard and we do our stuff we should be alright.”

READ MORE: Skating, Seawolves and Rainmakers basketball


Alex Kurial | Sports Reporter
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