Charles Hays Secondary School junior boys basketball team scored back-to-back victories over the weekend against Caledonia Kermodes to win their third straight zones title and secure a spot in provincials.
“I was really proud of how the guys (Rainmakers) played,” said head coach Kevin Sawka. “And I want to give credit to Terrace… they’ve worked really hard to improve this year.”
The first game saw the Rainmakers recover from Kermodes’s Brody McKay hitting a three-point buzzer beater to tie the game 41-41 and send it to overtime.
Rainmakers scored 14 points in the extra session to take the victory 55-43 behind 11 points from Rylan Adams and 10 points from Tyler Jones.
The second game followed a similar pattern, with Charles Hays leading only by a slight margin throughout the game.
In the final two minutes, the Kermodes started building some momentum, scoring two baskets, and called a timeout with just over a minute left, standing behind by a narrow 32-35.
But Prince Rupert hit a three-pointer to kill the Kermodes’s momentum, and made their free-throws down the stretch to take the win 40-32. Tyler Jones was the high scorer for the Rainmakers with 22 points.
Sawka said he was happy with the result as well as the team’s performance over the whole season. He noted that the team was undefeated and played a number of strong games with community teams and their senior boys’ second string.
“We’ve got a core group of guys that show up every single day, whether they’re sick or not, whether they’ve got family things going on,” he said. “They show up and make an absolute commitment to excellence.”
Kermodes coach Matt Lowndes said he thought the Terrace boys competed well.
“Charles Hays is a good basketball team,” he said. “Their defence is tough, they don’t give up too many baskets.
“Both games could have gone either way.”
And that’s been the trend against the Rainmakers all season, he added, noting that while the Kermodes lost all three season games against them, they always give them a solid run for their money.
Sawka said from as far back as when he played in 2002, Terrace always seems to play better at home.
“If there was ever a team that had a home court advantage, this is them. They always play better at home,” he said, adding that it’s not the refereeing that makes the difference.
CHSS players Brendan Eshom and Caden Pagens received all-star honours and Tyler Jones took home tournament MVP honours. The Rainmakers begin their provincial bid Feb. 23-28.