Sports

Hard work the equalizer for small-statured Storm

Parker Hendsbee (right) chucks a ball at Dupreez Smith during a friendly race at Chilliwack secondary’s pep rally at the school on Wednesday. - JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS
Parker Hendsbee (right) chucks a ball at Dupreez Smith during a friendly race at Chilliwack secondary’s pep rally at the school on Wednesday.
— image credit: JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS

Word on the street is the Chilliwack Storm senior boys basketball team could be in for a tough season.

They’re young and they’re small, a bad combination to have in a league of towering six-foot-something trees.

The Storm have skill. But physically, they’re likely get manhandled this year.

They’re also likely to have a lot more losses than wins, but don’t tell that to co-captains Brandon Isaac and Brandon Gandire.

They’re not hearing it.

“That’s for people to think, but we’re coming in here thinking we’re going to win every game,” Gandire said defiantly. “We’re going to play every game strong and take it to every team. Underdog or not, that’s what we’re hoping to do We want to prove everyone wrong.”

Why so confident?

Both guys know how much hard work they’ve put into this, and they have faith it’ll pay off.  Storm players start trickling into the gym at 6:30 a.m. every weekday. By quarter after seven, nearly the entire team is there, shooting baskets and honing their skills through drills.

“In the beginning of the season only four guys were coming out, but when the others saw the hard work paying off in games, they started coming out too,” Isaac said. “I’m up at 6:15 a.m., and I come here as soon as I’m ready.”

Over the last few years, coach Joe Mauro has hounded dozens of players to show this kind of dedication. He has long lamented the lack of work ethic, and couldn’t be happier about his current group.

“This is an incredible group of kids, with seven of the nine boys coming out for those morning workouts on a consistent basis,” the bench boss said. “They’ve re-energized me.”

Peer pressure may be one motivator for these boys — seeing a teammate working hard makes it difficult to not do the same.

“It may be that, or it may be them recognizing that, ‘If I don’t get in the gym to better myself, I could be sitting at the end of the bench,” Mauro said.

As proud as he is, the realist inside tells Mauro this group will only go so far. Fast forward a year, with growth spurts and experience factored in, and they may be able to do serious damage.

In the meantime...

“We have one kid who’s six-foot-one, and the rest are five-foot-something,” Mauro said. “I’m hoping if we run the ball as fast as we can, and shoot well from the outside, we can compensate a bit.”

Isaac said any team that faces these underdogs expecting them to roll over and die will be surprised.

“If we keep working the way we’ve worked the last two months, it will start paying off,” he said. “I’d like us to make playoffs and see what we can do from there.”

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