Vanier head coach Larry Street

Courtenay basketball team combines size and skill

The GP Vanier senior boys basketball team is beginning the school’s 53rd season on the court. After missing a year due to COVID, the 4A Towhees are raring to play some quality ball.

“Yes, stuff happens and we need to take things in stride, just like some game calls,” coach Larry Street said. “The season was shortened due to the lack of fuel issue, and the government travel restrictions, but once it’s over, it’s time to play.”

This year’s team has many Grade 12s supplemented by four hard-working Grade 11s. Though none have ever played a high school game, the coaches think they have a good idea on how it should be played. Street said it’s a smart group with a combination of size, quickness, toughness, and skill and game smarts.

Vanier is led by 6’6” captain Sam Barnie, who is striving to be playing at the next level next year.

“We are solid at the guard position,” Street said.

Co-captain Carson Bell is an excellent shooter and good all-round player while starting forward Aidan Walsh at 6’6” will provide a lot of effort at both ends of the floor. Senior point guard Tristan Carriere-Bela brings a high level skill set to the team and loves to pick up the tempo. Reed Fournier and Kobe Bell bring toughness, grit and skill to the squad. International student Carl Schmitz-Valckenberg is a solid forward who understands the game, and is a key member of the starting rotation. Senior point guard Max Lloyd also looks forward to important minutes on the floor, and will add a deft shooting touch.

Grade 11 Kaizan Hajdrych is a multi-talented athlete and smart basketball player. The coaches like his energy. Street said fellow Grade 11 Imraan Abdul has been awesome in practice and is proving he is a quick learner, and a great rebounder. Rounding out the Towhees are Grade 11s Micah Leopkey-Johnson and Josh Reed.

“They also have lots to learn about this game and are showing great promise in practice,” Street said. “They work very hard.”

Vanier was slated to open the season Nov. 30 against Timberline, but the game has been postponed to Dec. 15 at home.

Pending travel restrictions, the Towhees will hit the road for tournament play in Chilliwack Dec. 2-4, and at Mount Douglas Secondary in Victoria Dec. 9-11.

Vanier will meet the 3A Isfeld Ice in an exhibition game, Dec. 16 at Isfeld Secondary.

The annual Towhee Tournament, a yearly highlight, is Jan. 6-8.

“We hope to see some community at our games, and thank you to all the sponsors to date who are assisting with our basketball program,” Street said.

Boys basketballCourtenay