The Rainmakers captured the BC Boys Basketball Provincial Championships 2A Tournament with a decisive victory over Lake Country’s George Elliot Coyotes.
Finals were on Saturday, March 9, at the Langley Events Centre, where the Charles Hays Secondary School senior basketball team capped off their tournament with a 78-51 win.
“I’m really happy with the kids, they worked hard all year,” said head coach Mel Bishop, adding that many of the players weight trained to bring extra strength to their game.
It’s been 18 years since the team took the title at provincials. Prince Rupert won the AAA championship in 1964, and the AA in 1998 and 2001.
In 1998, Ryan Bishop was on the Rainmakers as a Grade 10 call up. He’d graduated when Prince Rupert took the title in 2001. This year, Ryan coached with his father, Mel.
In an interview at the Langley Events Centre, Ryan said “It’s nice to be a part of an actual one. I consider this my first provincial title.”
The Rainmakers won each of their four games in Langley with an average of 32 points. Friday’s semi-finals was the closest match when the Rainmakers faced Sa-Hali Sabres in a nail-bitter game that ended in a 74-66 win.
The Rainmaker’s defence was touted as the ‘difference maker’ at the tournament.
“We D’ed up, that was the deciding factor,” Ryan said. “We have stressed that all year. Physically we have been very strong on the defensive end and we take pride in that.”
Meanwhile, the Coyotes were known for their offensive output throughout the tournament, with an 88, 91 and 85-point performance in their first three games and many of their points coming from outside the three-point line.
“They took the line away from us,” said George Elliot coach Dave Lafontaine. “But you have to hit the shots.”
In the first quarter of the game, the Coyotes scored only 8 points and were down 39-18 at the half.
“But to get to this point and know we competed against an excellent team – the Bishops are legends in Prince Rupert, they do an outstanding job – they knew what we were going to do on the court,” Lafontaine said.
Rainmakers’ offence was also strong, with Liam McChesney scoring 25 points, 13 rebounds, Kai Leighton, with 20 points and 13 rebounds, and Eric Lees had 14 points and five rebounds.
Lees was honoured with Championship Player of the Game, and McChesney was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
McChesney is signed on to play with Utah State University after he graduates from Charles Hays Secondary.
While the Rainmakers returned home with the 2A championship, Mel said that his team was in that classification based on Charles Hays Secondary’s population. Many of the teams they competed against were from private schools making the division tougher than 3A, according to Mel.
“Geographically we’re so disadvantaged. The closest game is 100 miles away,” Mel said, which was why the team travelled twice to Vancouver to find high level competition in Quad A tournaments.
In January, the senior boys travelled to Vancouver and played Lord Tweedsmuir, the Quad A champions, and beat them by 25 points.This past season, the Rainmakers won all four games against the Quad A Number 2 seed, the Kitsilano Blue Demons. Two of those games were in Prince Rupert.
The senior Rainmakers only had four games in February, and the head coach was concerned. But despite the disadvantage, the boys fought hard and reigned as 2A provincial champions.
Shannon Lough | Editor
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