January 29, 2013 · 11:15 AM

FOSTER DEWITT (#20) boxes out a Cowichan player. / PHOTO BY MONIQUE LLOYD




The G.P. Vanier Towhees played two important AAA North Island League senior boys basketball games this past week, earning a win and a loss against two rivals who always bring their best to the gym.

On Tuesday, Jan. 22 the Courtenay boys travelled to Port Alberni to visit the Armada in their beautiful new school and outstanding athletic facility.

A good crowd was present to see a back-and-forth game that started with very high scoring and Vanier up 22-18 at the end of the first quarter. Half time was also very close.

The Armada were missing their leading scorer so the rest of the team had to pick up the slack, and they did that very well, said Towhees' head coach Larry Street. Vanier had a goal of playing everyone throughout the game because of the mentally draining Towhee Tournament finishing just a couple of days before. This tactic faltered a bit in the first half but picked up in the second, with Vanier having a comfortable lead throughout the half en route to a 65-56 win.

Joaquin Paterna pulled out an outstanding effort with 27 points, 57 per cent shooting, five rebounds, five assists and nine steals. Scott Stevens chipped in with 11 points and seven rebounds.

On Thursday Jan. 24 the Towhees were home to perennial power Cowichan from Duncan. A great crowd, and plenty of tension throughout the game made for a very well played high school basketball game, Street said.

Cowichan boasted a very big starting lineup with 6',8", 6',8", 6',5" and 6',4" starters – much taller than the Vanier starters, except for their quick little point guard. The Vancouver Island #8-ranked Towhees gave the Vancouver Island #4-ranked Thunderbirds a run for their money, outrebounding them by two and playing a very tough, aggressive, grind-it-out defence.

The big boys were held down, but Cowichan's overall scoring was spread out.  Vanier was down as much as 13 and came back to within five points during the middle of the fourth period. "But, too many missed open looks, and key turnovers was again our nemesis," Street noted, as the the Thunderbirds prevailed 58-49.

For Vanier Joss Biggins had one of his best games of the year, with 18 points on 62 per cent shooting.   Paterna chipped in 12 points, seven assists and six steals in another one of his foot-to-the-pedal games. "Unfortunately, no other Towhees could hit the ocean, so again we lose a well-played game that boiled down to too many missed open looks, and still too many turnovers," said Street.

"We are just inches away from beating the top teams, but only we, as a team, can get some consistent shooting from the entire team."

The Towhees' next home game is Saturday night, Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. against Semiahmoo from White Rock. The Towhees lost to them with seconds left by two points very early in the season so this is a big rematch.

Semiahmoo boasts the son of former Highland Raider and UVic great Dave Sheehan, who is an assistant coach and looking forward to visiting his former community.

– Vanier Towhees