The Alberni District Secondary School senior boys’ basketball team has high hopes for Totem.
The 67th annual basketball tournament will take place Jan. 5-7, 2023 at the ADSS gym, and the senior boys will kick off the action on Thursday at 5 p.m. against the visiting Ballenas Whalers.
The team has had a strong start to the 2022-23 season so far, picking up a 7-1 record on the road (2-0 in division play), and coach Craig Brooks is hoping to continue this winning formula at Totem 67.
“This year it’s been the theme of proving our doubters wrong,” said Brooks. “Every team we’ve played against, they’re all teams that beat us last year. We want to prove to the Island that we belong to the elite teams.”
Last year, the senior boys team was snake-bitten with injuries. On top of that, they nearly lost the chance to play in Totem 66, as the tournament was postponed by new provincial COVID-19 restrictions. All of this, combined with the experience of watching the senior girls on their historic run last season, “lit a fire” under the team, said Brooks.
“We’re getting contributions from everybody,” he said. “During our first tournament in Victoria, every member of the squad got on the stat sheet. The camaraderie and bonding going on—it’s a different feel than years past.”
Team captain Dom Wynans, who will be playing in his second Totem tournament as a senior this season, agrees.
“I think we’re a very underestimated team,” said Wynans. “We’ve got a lot of rookies this year, but they’re fitting in really well.”
One of these rookies is Ty Cyr, who has been lighting up the scoreboard all season. Although Cyr is a Grade 11 student, this is his second year playing in Totem. He was called up from the junior team last season to help fill out the roster due to injuries.
“It was a great experience,” said Cyr of his first Totem run. “The fans were awesome. I’ve never seen energy like that from a crowd before.”
Practices are “very competitive” this year, said Cyr. The team is running a blocker-mover offensive system—the “blockers” play a more physical role, getting in the way and forming screens, while the “movers” use those screens to take open shots.
“It creates a chemistry between players,” said Brooks. “It’s a bit of a dance. We’re getting contributions from everyone because someone is always able to step up.”
Coming off of COVID-19 restrictions, Brooks says the whole team is excited for what will be their first home game this season.
“Our entire season last year was basically a giant road trip,” said Brooks. “Every game we went to, the crowd was cheering against us. We want to see the gym packed to the rafters for Totem. The energy level [of Totem] is always crazy, but this year is going to be one for the ages.”
As for Wynans, he has a very simple goal for this year’s tournament.
“We want to win,” he said.
COMING UP…Next week we’ll take a look at this year’s Totem Spirit candidates.