The Alberni District Secondary School Armada junior boys basketball team is rebuilding this year; and what a rebuild it is.
The Armada are coming off a 69-23 win over Ucluelet Secondary School in an exhibition game last weekend, and they beat Comox’s Highland Secondary 69-62 in their opening league game on Jan. 16.
The team is re-tooling this year after losing seven players to the senior boys’ team including standouts Adam Yaredic, Cameron Geddes and Sam Moncur.
Grade 10 standout Coby Felsman has been called up to senior and had a strong showing at Totem.
Elijah Robinson, Joshua Clarke and Felsman have played strongly this year.
Grade 10 players Nick Kaminski and Brett Watts are playing their first years of high school hoops. “Nick is new to the sport and has improved a great deal since the beginning of November. And yes, he works very hard,” assistant coach Jean Contant said.
“Brett is bright, and has learned a lot for someone who hasn’t really played before.”
Contant, Dave De Jong and Earl Tatoosh III all coach the junior boys’ team. Harold Lefty Williams, who coached last year, stepped back to help with his family after the birth of his son earlier this month.
The team plays in the six-team North-North Island league, and will see action against GP Vanier, Highland, Timberline, Mark Isfeld and Carihi Secondary this season.
“We probably stack up fifth or maybe fourth in the league,” Contant said. “GP Vanier is the team to beat.”
The Armada’s strengths are defense and rebounding under the defensive boards, he said. The team’s challenges include learning a new offence when only three players returned from last year.
After the Armada senior boys won Totem 59, head coach Neelam Parmar credited the team’s win in part to being supplied with strong players from the junior program.
“One of the things we’ve tried to instill is a family philosophy, that from Grade 9 to Grade 12 players are part of one Armada family,” Parmar said.
Part of the philosophy involves practices that blend seniors and juniors, something that Contant considers a benefit.
“The players learn the drills, offensive systems and defensive systems. This provides consistency and it doesn’t seem foreign when the juniors step up to senior,” he said.
The team’s next home game is Jan. 23 at home against Timberline.