The Alberni District Secondary School (ADSS) senior boys basketball team continued their strong start to the season with a third place finish at the Isfeld Ice Tournament in Courtenay.
Friday afternoon (Dec. 9) pitted the ADSS squad against the host team Mark Isfeld Seconary School. The opening quarter was a back-and-forth affair that saw several lead changes. Isfeld opened the second quarter with a flurry of quick attacks which saw them open up the biggest lead of the game by either squad. But as Isfeld reached that 11-point lead, head coach Craig Brooks called a timeout in an effort to cool off their attack and refocus the Alberni squad to reorganize their own attack. The tactic worked. Alberni stormed out of the gate with a thrashing of three-point bombs from Blake Knoll, Ty Cyr and Liam St. Onge and key defensive stops against the Ice on consecutive possessions. When the horn sounded for half time, ADSS closed out with a massive 15-1 run of their own, retaking the lead 38-34.
The second half began just as it had ended, with the ADSS senior boys on another massive 13-2 run, fueled largely by Cyr scoring 12 of his 22 points in this quarter. Alberni held the Comox squad to a season low nine points in the quarter. Isfeld continued to battle, but Alberni held on to a 73-67 victory to open their tournament. St. Onge led the team in scoring with 25 points.
Isfeld has been an Island representative in the provincial playoffs for nearly a decade straight, and this marks head coach Craig Brooks’ first win against Isfeld in his coaching tenure.
Alberni saw their first loss of the season in Game 2 action against John Barsby Secondary School, coming out a step slower and a second late compared to their Barsby opponents. Barsby’s aggressive 2-3 zone defence created hesitation in a normally assured Alberni attack and generated a myriad of turnovers from the squad. By the end of the first, Barsby had a 37-20 lead. Reaching into the bench, Brooks looked for ways to spark the offense into action and stiffen defensive resolve. Rotations were frequent while the squad tried to find the right combination of players to lead the charge. At half time, Barsby was firmly in control, 62-32. Alberni began the second half with a less experienced starting five and, while they were able to slow the Barsby attack somewhat, the offense remained stifled. They gave up only 14 points but only generated 6 points themselves. In the fourth quarter, Grade 11 rookies Luca Centomo and Scott Cisaroski were able to find some success against the Barsby zone defence, but it was too great a hole to climb out of as Alberni was thumped 103-68 and relegated to the third place match.
“The 4-0 run to start the season was fun while it lasted, but now we get to learn a lesson and find out what our identity really is,” said Brooks. “We experimented with a few things. Obviously, we have more work to do. [Barsby] did to us what we’ve been doing to everyone else so far this year. Can we learn and grow from this? Can we band together, pick ourselves up, and re-establish our identity, or will we lament what should’ve been and point fingers?”
In their final game of the tournament, the ADSS boys squared off against the AAAA Royal Bay Secondary School in a battle for bronze. In what can only be described as a physical war in the paint, scoring was hard to come by in the first quarter and second chance opportunities were rare. Alberni did, however, see seven different players with scoring contributions during this time. As the first half was drawing to a close, Alberni star forward Ty Cyr was taken out of the game by injury, and other players were cycled into action and answered the call for being next man up. Captain Dom Wynans dominated the boards, leading all players by the game’s end with 16 rebounds. Evan MacLeod led the team with 5 steals.
The halftime score was 31-20 for ADSS and the second half saw a steady rotation of players coming off the bench to counter the substitutions of Royal Bay. The tactic paid off, as the Alberni lead grew and players like Izrael Oosthuyzen and Nick Cross could continue sparking the offense with timely three-point makes that Royal Bay could not keep pace with. By the end of the game, every Alberni player had made the stat sheet in some way. Alberni secured the bronze medal finish with a solid 67-48 bounce-back game.
This marks the second consecutive tournament where the ADSS senior boys have brought back hardware. This win moves them to an overall 5-1 record on the year.
Their next tournament does not take place until they host the annual Totem Tournament at ADSS, alongside the senior girls (Jan. 5-7). They will open their regular season on the road at Kwalicum Secondary (Dec. 13) and Duncan Christian School (Dec. 15).