Alberni District Secondary Armada coach Craig Brooks choked up as he watched teammates comfort one of his senior boys basketball players after a tough loss Friday night at the Totem 65 tournament.
“It was an emotional game,” Brooks said from the sidelines in Port Alberni’s high school gymnasium. “These guys left it on the court.”
After beating Kwalikum Kondors 83–60 in their opening game, the Armada drew a tough one against Carihi High Tyees of Campbell River for their Jan. 10 game.
“We were huge underdogs in this game,” Brooks said. “Carihi High has been ranked top 10 all year, they’ve gone to provincials four out of the last five years or some crazy stat like that.”
The Armada led much of their game against Carihi on Friday, but the Tyees pulled ahead by 10 points late in the fourth quarter and the Armada couldn’t overcome the difference. Carihi won the game 67–57 and advance to the gold medal game.
Brooks said his team’s defence was strong for the whole game. They went in with the mindset to shut down two of Carihi’s top scorers—Marcus Shankar and Nicholas Gatzke (No. 12), who are among the league’s best point-getters. They ketp Gatzke to 15 points and shut down Shankar in the first half.
“We played as a unit,” Brooks said. “Ball movement was good. Sometimes you can play an excellent game and you just don’t get the result.”
This will be the third year in a row the Armada play for third place; this time against the loser of the Reynolds vs. Isfeld game (scheduled for 10:45 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 11 at Alberni Athletic Hall).
Brooks is almost hoping they play Isfeld from Comox.
“Reynolds seems to have our number, mine in particular with the TV game (broadcast on Shaw TV in Port Alberni). “We played them twice in the TV game and both times it hasn’t been pretty.”
Carihi High will play in the Totem 65 final Saturday at 4 p.m. against the winner of the Reynolds vs. Isfeld game.
The Armada will play the Saturday night (Jan. 11) feature game at 7:30 p.m. in the ADSS gym against the loser of the Reynolds vs. Isfeld game. The Totem Spirit winner will be crowned at the conclusion of the game.
FROM THE KEY…The Armada boys have had some extra motivation for their first two games at Totem this year: coach Brooks promised to let his players shave his head if they made it to the championship game. “I guess he gets to keep his hair,” someone quipped after the game.