The Alberni District Secondary School Armada senior boys basketball team knew what it took it win and did what it took to win.
The Armada handily beat the Reynold’s Road Runners 81-42 to win Totem 59, their second straight Totem title.
Armada guard Josh DeJong scored 20 points on the night, while forward Luke Bradley scored 14 points and was named tournament MVP.
“Our team set to do what we hoped to do and expected to do and that was win this one,” head coach Neelam Parmar said.
Playing before a capacity crowd at the ADSS gym, the Armada were up 19-14 at the end of the first quarter and were leading 34-26 at the half. They fought back a Reynolds surge in the third quarter and finished strong in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
The difference between winning and losing was the experience of having already won a Totem title. “Our seniors knew what it took to win and they expected to win this year. There was no fear going in,” Parmar said. “Our team is 8-3 in exhibition and tournament play so far this season so they’ve made winning a good habit.”
Bradley came up big, especially in the championship game in which his 14 points were the highest of his three games on the weekend. “He did what we always knew he could do and he scored more while doing it,” Parmar said.
The depth of the Armada bench also factored in the championship game. Parmar gave a nod to Grade 11’s Adam Yaredic, Sam Moncur, Cameron Geddes and Kevin Titian as being key. “We don’t just have depth, we have quality depth, and you could see that in the scoring consistency and flow of the game during substitutions,” Parmar said.
The first half of the game was relatively close. Reynolds adjusted in the second quarter by trying to contain Bradley. “We don’t need to force the ball to Luke and he doesn’t force trying to get it – the ball always finds him,” Parmar said. “The other guys also stepped up without missing a beat. I think I knew then that we had the game.”
Reynolds surged against a sluggish Armada in the third quarter but aggressive defense paid off for the Armada. DeJong scored 20 points but he stopped just as many as he locked down Reynolds forward Dexter Crane holding him to 19 points. “Playing good defense is another weapon in our arsenal,” Parmar said.
With another Totem title on the mantle the Armada has to concentrate on the regular season, which starts on Thursday against Cowichan. The team’s goal now isn’t to level-out after the tournament-winning high. “This (Totem) can’t be our sole focal point of the season. We can’t treat Totem like it’s a Super Bowl win. It’s like a big win the pre-season.”
Winning a second Totem title is vindication and validation for the Armada basketball program, which had fallen on hard times over the years. It’s a win for present players, but also for players from those tough times too.
“We were treated like doormats. It wasn’t uncommon for our team to be out of it in the first five minutes and then to get clobbered by 40-50 points,” Parmar said.
The change can be credited to youth and family, he said.
The junior and seniors boys and girls teams don’t exist in separate silos or programs, and are instead members of the same family. Parmar credited the work of Harold Lefty Williams, who coached the junior boys team, with feeding strong players into the senior program.
The senior team called up a handful of junior players for the weekend. “We try to include them as much as possible because we want them to experience what Totem is like and to want them for themselves when they become seniors,” Parmar said. “The future starts now.”