The Cowichan Secondary School Thunderbirds fended off a challenge from Spectrum on Monday night to hang onto their berth in the Island AAAA boys basketball championships in Nanaimo this week.
Spectrum, the fifth-place team in the South, earned the right to challenge Cowichan, the fourth-place team in the North, for a spot at Islands. They took that chance, setting up a winner-take-all match at Brentwood College on Monday.
“We knew it was win or go home, and not the sort of game we could take moral victories from,” Cowichan head coach Casey Parsons said. “From the tip the guys were engaged, and seemed ready to do what they had to.”
The T-Birds took a 43-26 lead into halftime, and refused to let up in the second half as they rolled to an 81-46 victory.
“Defensively, we got after rebounds and took away second chance opportunities,” Parsons said. “Offensively, we did a solid job of sharing the ball and making good decisions. All nine guys got minutes, and contributed on both ends of the floor.”
Clayton Bergstrom led Cowichan with 23 points. Grade 10 Shadynn Smid put up 19, and Ethan Giles added 17.
The T-Birds lost both their games at North Islands last week. Cowichan opened against Nanaimo District Secondary on Thursday and put together a solid first half before letting the Islanders go on a huge run to start the third quarter, leading to an 89-66 final in favour of NDSS. The T-Birds “flat out laid an egg” against Dover Bay the following day, losing 72-47.
The T-Birds met Claremont, the No. 1 seed from the South, on Thursday in the Island Championships at NDSS. The winner plays at 8 p.m. on Friday and the loser plays at 4 p.m. on Friday.