Alberni Armada senior boys: Totem 58 champs
Practicing what was preached earned the Alberni District Secondary School Armada senior boys basketball team the Totem 58 boys division championship.
The Armada beat Victoria's Stelly's Stingers 53-43 in Saturday night's championship game at ADSS. The Armada won the championship for the first time since 2005.
Armada guard Josh Kurucz poured in 18 points in the game and was named the tournament's most valuable player. Armada's Brayden Kirschner notched 15 points and was named to the first all star team.
“Remember this moment. Soak it in and remember it foreover,”Armada coach Ryan Broekhuizen said to the team at the bench as the game clock was about to expire.
The Armada lead scoring in all four quarters. They scored 29 points in the first half of the game and 24 points after the half.
Winning the championship boiled down to the players practicing what has been preached to them all season, coach Neelam Parmar said.
“We preached the same message all season: ball control, boxing out, and making freethrows. It all came together for them at this Totem,” Parmar said.
The Armada beat Woodlands 60-59 in their opening game on Friday, then dispatched Reynolds Secondary 58-37 in Friday night's feature game
The Armada played smoothly against Stelly's but there were challenges, Parmar said. Stelly's executed a press defense trying to lock the Armada down but the Armada watched Stelly's press in a previous game and were ready.
“They pushed and our guys held. We broke their press and stuck with our offensive sets,” Parmar said. “If there was a moment early on that I felt it was ours I'd say it was after that,”
The Armada played stellar defense of their own, holding Stelly's mainstays David Heywood and Parker Phillips to a combined 16 points.
Team play wins championships but some players drive the engine. Kurucz, like MVP's in previous Totems, found a way to score, Parmar said.
Other players stepped up too and Brayden Kirschner and Luke Bradley were two of them. “When defenses keyed in on Josh, Brayden stepped up. Everything we've preached to him he did. This was his coming out party.”
Bradley picked up three fouls right away and his playing time was limited in the first half, The big man came back, stayed disciplined and snared critical rebounds and made fouls shots afterward, Parmar said.
With the tournament over it's back to the grind, Parmar said. There's practices to be had and league games to play. The north island and Island championships are on the horizon as well. “We can't get complacent though. Totem was a great victory but we're not there yet,” Parmar said. “There's work to do but we'll get there. This was one step of many. But it was a gigantic step.”