The hoped-for showdown against Oak Bay didn’t happen for the Belmont Bulldogs, but they nonetheless savoured winning the city junior boys basketball title on Friday.
The Bulldogs captured the No. 1 south berth into this weekend’s Island championships at Campbell River’s Carihi with a come from behind 46-39 win over St. Michaels University School in the final at Central middle school.
Belmont No. 1 south seed, opens the tournament Thursday night (Feb. 18) against the winner between Reynolds and Mark Isfeld from Courtenay. A win there would pit the Bulldogs against the winner between B.C. seventh-ranked Brentwood College from Mill Bay and Nanaimo’s Dover Bay.
Both teams in Saturday’s final qualify for the provincial championships, as do the third and fourth place teams, who go head to head on Saturday afternoon.
“Our goals were to win the cities, win the Island and represent at the provincials,” said Bulldogs coach Curt Spaven. “It’s going to be a tough test at the Islands, but we feel we’re going to be up for the challenge.”
With Oak Bay withdrawn from further play last week for disciplinary reasons by school administrators, following a bizarre social media/bullying situation, Belmont drew into the playoffs as the top seed. Both teams finished league play at 6-1, but Oak Bay had been awarded first based on beating Belmont in an early season matchup.
The final saw Belmont down by nine at one point in the third quarter, but rally to overtake SMUS. The Bulldogs were led by swing man Julius Kennedy, who hit six three- pointers en route to a 30-plus point game.
“St. Mikes are a scrappy bunch and the defensive pressure they bring is rattling,” Spaven said. “But our guys showed character in coming back the way they did.”
Last Wednesday’s semifinals saw point guard Nichad Tarak, later named tournament most valuable player, score the Bulldogs’ first 11 points and finish with 15 in a 64-33 win over Lambrick Park.
Post player Isaac Ickovich and defensive specialist Lucas Gage were also major factors for the Bulldogs during the tournament, Spaven said.
In the tournament opener, Belmont walked over Edward Milne 77-27. The Sooke team drew in from the B league upon Oak Bay’s removal.