Extreme weather left the Rainmakers senior boys team stranded on a train for more than 27 hours. Their destination? Prince George, which is normally a 10-hour train ride away.
“Last night we slept on a chair basically. We were supposed to get to Prince George at about 10 o’clock at night, but we’re still three hours out near Endako,” coach Mel Bishop said on Feb. 8 at 11 a.m. “That’s a long time to be on a train. We could’ve flown to Australia in that time.”
Eventually, a Greyhound bus picked up the delayed train passengers who had been trying to reach Prince George from Prince Rupert since 8 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 7. They arrived Thursday night.
Charles Hays Secondary School (CHSS) senior boys basketball team learned what it meant to stay ready this week.
Despite the delay, the Rainmakers won on the road 88-81 against the sixth-ranked AAA Duchess Park Condors.
“It was probably the worst road trip I’ve been on, but the team still came out and played hard,” coach Bishop said following the game.
This was the second time a matchup between the Rainmakers and Condors was delayed due to poor weather conditions. Earlier this year, the two teams had to cancel a January game because dangerous road conditions prevented Duchess Park from making the trip.
After that cancellation, the Rainmakers planned a trip to Prince George to make up for those lost games. They departed from Prince Rupert at 8 a.m. on Feb 7, hoping to settle into Prince George the day before their matchup with the Condors. However, they were delayed, first by a frozen tree falling on the train and then massive amounts of snow built up between carts.
The team eventually arrived at Duchess Park high school after being picked up by a bus approximately three hours outside Prince George. Not wanting to waste the trip, the team immediately got off the bus, had a quick 15-minute warm-up and played five quarters of exhibition basketball against the Condors.
The next day, the real game began. Bishop said while he was concerned about how his team would respond given the difficulties they had experienced on the trip, he was impressed by their energy to start the game.
“It wasn’t so much their ability, but their lack of sleep and the situation on the road trip,” he said. “There was lots of adversity, but the guys showed a lot of grit.”
The Rainmakers jumped out to an early lead with Kai Leighton hitting three straight three-pointers to open the game. Duchess Park employed a full-court press to put pressure on the Rainmakers ball-handlers, but Bishop said the team handled the strategy well and was able to build a 48-26 lead at the half.
In the second half, the Condors switched to a full-court, man-to-man press which sped up the tempo of the game and forced the Rainmakers into turning over the ball. Bishop said hot shooting and penetration combined from the Condor’s guards allowed the Prince George team to claw their way back into the game.
“That caused a little bit more problems for us,” he said.
The Condors cut the Rainmaker’s lead down to three, but CHSS were able to pull away at the end of the game thanks to strong performances from Liam McChesney (32), Leighton (28), Christian Clifton (14) and Eric Lees (8).
The team next prepares for zones on Feb. 23 and 24 at CHSS.