(File photo)

Senior Boys Rainmakers charge into the new year with tourney win

Mix of high powered offensive and shutdown defence lead Charles Hays to victory

The Senior Boys Rainmakers are returning home as champions of the invitational tournament at Prince George Secondary School after three commanding wins over the weekend.

The first tip-off for Charles Hays in the eight team tournament was on Friday, Jan. 10 as the Rainmakers matched up against Kelly Road Secondary from Prince George. CHSS quickly put to rest any idea of a home court advantage for their opponents as they exploded offensively for a 109-66 victory. Rylan Adams led the way in points with 23, while Tyler Jones (19) and Kai Leighton (18) were close behind.

READ MORE: Charles Hays fly to victory at Prince George Condor Classic

On to Saturday and the Rainmakers found themselves against another Prince George side, this time in the tournament hosts Prince George Secondary. The offensive outburst of their opening game wasn’t to be repeated, but it was replaced by a stifling defensive effort that saw CHSS hold their opponents below 40 points in a 71-37 win.

Four players hit double figures, led by Leighton and Caden Pagens with 12 points each. Adams and Jones each contributed 10 points.

The win put Charles Hays in the final, where they matched up against North Peace Secondary out of Fort St. John. The highly touted AAAA side was no match for the Rainmakers though as the Rupert side ran to a 95-65 win. Leighton exploded for 31 points in the final, tailed closely by Pagens who knocked back 26. Adams (17) and Jones (15) once again rounded out the top scorers.

READ MORE: Rainmakers start defence of home court with a splash

Kai Leighton was named MVP of the tournament, also receiving a player of the game nod along with Jones and Brendan Eshom.

“He played tremendous defence the whole tournament,” head coach Mel Bishop said of Eshom’s play. “He usually guards the toughest perimeter player, and he did an outstanding job.”

“Kai Leighton was really strong on the backboard,” Bishop added. “They [Leighton and Pagens] scored a lot of inside baskets. They did a great job on the offensive glass, and got a lot of put-backs, which helps a lot. That helps us gain possessions, which is an important part of the game.”

“We put lots of pressure on the basketball and try to take away any dribble penetration to the basket, and we did a good job,” Bishop said of the Rainmakers defence, which held their opponents to 56 points per game. “The other team had a hard time getting any dribble penetration, and they had to take a lot of perimeter shots. We pressured a lot of those shots, and that was the key.”

“We’re guarding the ball well. The guys are buying into the defensive end of the game, and it’s paying off,” said Bishop.

Next up for the Rainmakers is a pair of home games this weekend against visiting Brookswood Secondary from Langley.

The team are currently ranked as an hounourable mention AAA squad, which should provide some good competition for the No. 1 ranked AA Rainmakers. The first game goes Friday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m., with a follow-up game Saturday at noon.

Alex Kurial | Sports Reporter
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