Port Alberni’s senior boys basketball team is a bit of a “work in progress” as they head into their 65th annual Totem tournament this weekend, according to head coach Craig Brooks.
The team—which took third place in Totem 63 and 64—looks different this year, with a number of new players joining the roster. Brooks said he has been working on some “complicated concepts” with the team.
“We’re younger and little bit undersized,” explained Brooks. “That means we play a little faster, more aggressive, take more risks.”
To make matters more complicated, the team has also been bitten by an “injury bug” this year.
“We’ve got 14 guys on our roster, but we’ve usually been playing with nine,” said Brooks. “We’re hoping we can get everyone healthy in time for the tournament.”
The team struggled at the beginning of the season—as of Dec. 12, the ADSS Armada had not won a single game. But things have been looking up for the senior boys, who put up a 3-0 weekend at the Edward Milne Tournament in Sooke, followed by their first home win against Timberline Secondary on Dec. 17.
“Our record doesn’t reflect where we’re at now,” said Brooks.
Despite the rough start, team chemistry has not been an issue, added Brooks. The boys have been holding different dress-up themes for their games on the road, including an “ugly Christmas sweater” weekend.
“The guys are coming together, they’re gelling,” said Brooks. “We have a lot of fun. We have a penchant for turning on the ’80s tunes on the bus. It’s a pretty good time.”
Grade 12 basketball player Cameron Cyr admitted that the team has had a “rough start” for the 2019-20 season.
“But the chemistry is coming along,” he added. “I think we’re going to be really good for the rest of the season.”
Cyr joined the senior boys team as a Grade 10 student back in 2017-18, so he is feeling “very emotional” about his third and final Totem tournament.
“I’ve made such great memories here at Totem,” said Cyr. “Overall, it’s been such a great time.”
“I’m pretty hyped about it,” added fellow Grade 12 player Ja’ered Atleo. “I want to make it the best year yet and leave it all out on the court.”
The boys open Totem on Thursday, Jan. 9 with a game against Kwalikum at the ADSS Gym starting at 5:15 p.m. Admission is $5 for everyone on Thursday.