A couple of tight, one-point losses at the B.C. High School Provincial Championships doomed the Charles Hays Secondary School (CHSS) senior boys basketball team, which ultimately went 1-3 at the tournament and ended up ranked 14th in the province.
The Rainmakers fought valiantly and were close in every game they played, with their biggest loss being by nine points to the team that finished sixth. Despite the heartbreakers, assistant coach Ryan Bishop was happy with his team’s effort.
“I think we competed. I think we got some guys that had some pretty big games,” he said.
With college scouts at the game, the players that needed to step up did. Bishop pointed out Ben Rabel and Dionte Stephens in particular.
The Rainmakers were held back by losing six-foot-seven Liam McChesney in the first game, due to some back issues. A deep bench helped, but it’s hard to replace that height and talent.
On the first day of the tournament, CHSS played Lord Byng, a team that placed sixth when all was said and done. The Rainmakers were right with them, tied 39-39 near the end of the third but Bishop said a couple defensive lapses led to the opposing team running away with the lead, eventually winning 67-58. Quinn Leighton scored 21 points in the game, Stephens scored 16 and Rabel had 10.
Following that, the Rainmakers battled Prince George’s Duchess Park and looked primed for their first win of the tournament. Up by 14 points with approximately five minutes to go, the Condors roared back to tie it and then win in overtime, 75-74.
“Ben Rabel’s game against Duchess Park sticks out for me. He had 30 points and probably close to 25 rebounds. Just a monstrous game, which was nice because the Douglas College coach was watching him and they’re interested in him now,” Bishop said.
Stephens also had a big game, hitting six three-pointers and scoring 24 points total.
The Rainmakers won their third game 59-40 against Brookswood, a familiar opponent, to avoid a bottom ranking. Stephens was named player of the game, thanks to 21 points and eight rebounds.
In the final game, Rupert once again suffered a heartbreaker at the hands of Mark Isfield, 68-67. The two nailbiters would have been easier to swallow if it had been 20 instead of one, Bishop lamented.
“A couple bounces here and there, and it would have been a completely different result,” he said.
Bishop said he was more than happy with the level of competition the Rainmakers showed, but their weakness was probably their shooting percentage, which was lower than expected. Known as a strong shooting team, the Rainmakers went 6-for-27 in one game and 9-for-36 in another.
Still, a 1-3 record doesn’t reflect how much different the result could have been for CHSS.
“It was a great group of kids that represented our school well. Now that the year is over, it’s kind of bittersweet. There’s another group of kids coming through, so you do what you can with those kids and hopefully there’s more success next year,” Bishop said.
Five players will be graduating this season, including the starting point guard, starting two, starting four, starting post player and sixth man. But Bishop isn’t worried, because of how deep the team was this year, as well as some good junior players moving up.
Looking ahead to next season, the Rainmakers will be moving from AAA — where they have played the last couple years despite being a smaller-sized school — to AA. The pre-season rankings are already out and the Rainmakers are ranked the No. 2 AA team in the province.