Esquimalt player Jacob Sanders looks to manoeuvre his way through Vic High opponents Jarius Miclat (25) and Argel Liao (23) during Tuesday night city AAA senior boys basketball action at Esquimalt High. The visiting Totems won 65-49. Don Descoteau/Victoria News

Victoria High boys crank it up on home court

Junior team captures home tourney, seniors lose in final

Vic High’s boys basketball program has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years.

The senior Totems qualified first out of Victoria and hosted the Island AAA championships last year, finishing fifth in the process, one win away from qualifying for provincials.

They lost their two best players to graduation and struggled out of the gate this season. But they’re coming to understand that they’re not going to beat teams in the paint, so they might as well play to their strength and beat them with speed – a valuable asset with not a lot of height on the roster.

At their home tournament last weekend the Totems reeled off a pair of impressive victories, 77-60 over Belmont B, and 74-70 over Comox’s Highland in the semifinals, before running into what seemed like a misplaced Shawnigan Lake team in the final. The private school Stags rolled over the Totems 94-35 in last Saturday’s final, finishing with an average win margin of 55 points in the tournament.

Outside of that lopsided loss to a team they won’t meet in the playoffs, Totems coach Cory Ahlers likes the way his team is looking as it heads into the home stretch. They looked good in beating the Dockers 65-49 in league play at Esquimalt High on Tuesday and are scheduled to play Edward Milne in Sooke on Thursday.

“Everyone’s healthy and it’s good timing with playoffs right around the corner,” Ahlers said, noting that his team is “underestimated on the Island.”

“In general, I think we’re just realizing as a team what our identity is. What we can do is use our speed and beat you up the court and pressure you in the back court. By the third and fourth quarter, teams are just exhausted playing against us.”

Totems forward Danzil Binag, with 19 points in game 1 of the home tourney, guard Jarius Miclat with 25 in game 2 and forward Kendrick Laurian in game 3 earned game all star honours on the weekend.

Showing their depth, Michael Guting had a team-high 13 against Esquimalt on Tuesday, followed by Miclat with 11 and Jamie Kim with 10. Nick Andrianos had 12 to lead the Dockers.

Given Vic High’s solid two win, one loss performance at the Gulf Islands Scorpions tournament the previous weekend, Ahlers said, “I think we’ve got the ball rolling in the right direction. The next two weeks will be interesting.”

Junior boys capture title at Vic High

Totems Grade 9 reserve Max Miller came off the bench to score his only three points of Saturday’s junior boys final at Vic High with one shot. His timely trey gave the juniors a 49-46 win over Royal Bay.

The game-winning shot capped a comeback from a 30-18 deficit at halftime.

“That was a phenomenal way to end it, especially with so many fans there watching,” said Totems coach Lucas Goltz. “The energy in the gym was incredible.”

Leading the way with 17 points in the final was shooting guard Jake Docena, the co-most valuable player of the tournament along with Miguel Albia, who added seven against the Ravens.

Like their senior counterparts, the junior Totems used an aggressive press defence in the second half to keep the Ravens at bay and create some offence on the turnovers. Minseok Kwak chipped in with eight points in the win, while teammate Matthew Callow had seven.

Goltz said the team has had a tough season, but he hoped the tournament win would give them some momentum heading into Thursday’s (Feb. 1) opening city playoff game.

Vic High opened with a 85-47 drubbing of Belmont B, then dispatched a talented Oak Bay team 73-62 in the semifinals. Oak Bay downed Spectrum 65-52 in the third-fourth place game.

editor@vicnews.com

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