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Highland Raiders off to B.C. basketball championships
The Highland Raiders punched their ticket to the Provincials on the weekend by finishing third at the Island AA boys basketball championships at Lambrick Park in Victoria.
The top two Island teams, Lambrick and Saint Michaels, are also the #1 and #2 seeds in B.C., making the Island AA division possibly the toughest division of AA, AAA and AAAA hoops on the Island.
Highland has played and beat some of the top-ranked AAA and AAAA teams this season in tournament play. They opened the Islands with a 57-35 win over Shawnigan Lake. Nick Tancon led the scoring with 26 points and Trenton Cameron added 16.
Highland gave Island champions SMU a battle in their second game. The Raiders were up by as many as seven and were within six at the end of the third quarter before running out of steam and falling 84-65. Sam Lewis scored 23 points (including seven three-pointers) and Tancon added 14)
The Raiders then beat John Barsby 74-71 behind Tancon (38) and Lewis (14). In the match for third and a berth to the B.C.s, Highland defeated Brentwood in a back-and-forth battle 62-58 (Tancon 34, Jared Collin 14) and earned themselves a trip to Langley for Provincials for the first time in over a decade for Highland.
This group of boys is unique to B.C. high school sports. Where many teams in the province don’t allow their athletes to compete in multiple sports and many coaches feel that by the senior level players should be choosing one sport to focus on, these Highland athletes seem to want to do it all. They somehow manage to pull it all off and do it well.
This year the senior volleyball team were top six in the province and five of the boys on the volleyball team also make up the core of the basketball team. Sam Lewis, Chris Dodd, Trenton Cameron, Spencer McDougall and Jared Collin were all starters on the Island # 1 volleyball team and transferred over to comprise the basketball team.
Aaron Simmonds , Trenton Cameron and John Nwokoro also played on the school soccer team which won North Islands this year. The team also boasts four hockey players in Chris Dodd, Liam Shaw, Spencer McDougall and Conor Luty.
It makes attendance at games and practices a juggle, but the Raiders make it work. Many of the boys are also honour roll students and Cameron is in the IB program.
This team has been together since Grade 8 and since that time, the numbers have dwindled with three key players moving. (Alec Molander and Bryce Marinus who had moved last year were both at Islands supporting the team.) The third of these players was 6’7” star Nick Tancon who left in Grade 11 to play in Denmark.
Since coming back to his former teammates and friends at Highland, Tancon has led the team to the highly ranked position they are in now. He is a force to be reckoned with and the competition does not have an answer for him. He’s not just tall, he’s talented. Nick has received offers from numerous CIS schools for next year.
The backcourt of the Raiders’ team has been tough for opponents to match. The starting backcourt, consisting of Lewis, Cameron and Collin, complement Tancon’s unstoppable inside game.
As soon as the defence collapses on Tancon, the three shooters step in. The three each contribute consistently. Each has had games where individually they have scored six, seven or eight three-pointers. When one cools off the others heat up. All three are able to shoot, but are not afraid to mix it up inside as well. The ball handling of Lewis, the consistency and defence of Cameron, and Collin’s uncanny knack for drawing fouls is crucial to this team’s success.
McDougall, Luty and Simmonds all step into the tough centre position and shake things up themselves – Simmonds and Luty with inside presence and McDougall with his finesse under the basket. Liam Shaw always shakes things up when he’s on the floor, using his physical play to his advantage.
Adding to this is the unbelievably quick, tenacious defence of Chris Dodd. The volleyball Island MVP and hockey player doesn’t claim to be a shooter (he says he gets more goals in a hockey game than points in a basketball game) but his defence has proven to be one of Highland’s other secret weapons. His role is to muzzle the opponents’ stars and he does that in spades.
Coming to the team this year were new players to Highland, Quentin Bouchard and John Nwokoro who have given quality minutes. Bouchard used his court time well, adding four three-pointers this season.
The team was lucky to get coach Murray Erickson back to Highland this year. He coached most of the boys in their junior year and they were happy that he could give them another year and a trip to Islands and now Provincials.
– Highland Raiders