Jakob Tortorelli of Vanier was MVP at the Chilliwack Tournament on the weekend. File photo by Peggy Street

Courtenay basketball team starts season with tourney

The senior boys basketball roster at Vanier Secondary includes seven key members from last year’s team that won — for the first time in school history — the senior boys 3A Island championship.

Coach Larry Street said this season presents a brand new challenge because the Towhees are now competing in the 4A tier, taking on the likes of provincially ranked Victoria schools Claremont, Belmont and Oak Bay.

He said the league in the north will be tough in itself. Street expects Nanaimo District will be the team to beat, while Dover Bay will be “very competitive in their own right.” The “always feisty” Cowichan of Duncan rounds out the four-team league.

Returning Towhee starters include Peter Greaves, who stands 6’8, the 6’6 Brayden Waugh, 6’3 guards Cam Bell and Jakob Tortorelli, and quick point guard Macyn Leopkey-Johnson.

“This is a very athletic, fast and big group, with 6’5” Jeff Powell and 6’2” Jeremy Knopp coming off the bench,” Street said.

Newcomers include Grade 12 point guard Paolo Toribio, 6’3 forward Alex Larose, 6’6 Grade 11 forward Logan Bell, 6’ guard Hunter Harris and 5’9 forward Kevin Chui.

Last week in Victoria, Vanier beat Reynolds Secondary 76-48. Tortorelli and Greaves each scored 19 points, and Leopkey-Johnson scored 16. Tortorelli and Waugh had nine rebounds, Greaves had eight and Knopp had four. Cam Bell had three steals and five assists.

“All in all a good start to our season,” Street said.

The Towhees competed at the Chilliwack Tournament on the weekend. They played Highroad Academy of Chilliwack, the second-ranked single A team in B.C., in the opener.

“Vanier’s athleticism totally dominated this game from start to finish,” Street said. “We out-rebound them by 16, 17 steals, 19 assists and 17 blocked shots.”

Tortorelli led the way with 20 points, and was seven for eight from the free-throw line. Cam Bell chipped in 14 points and five assists, and Greaves had 12 points, 11 rebounds and 10 blocked shots.

“The team was a plus-63 for the game, an outstanding result.”

Vanier then beat Princess Margaret of Penticton 82-79 in an entertaining semi-final. The Towhees were down 15 at half time. Four starters were in foul trouble, and one player was injured. But the momentum switched in the third quarter. Fast break basket after basket took the Towhees to 10 points up within five minutes, generated by their stifling team defence. The game in the fourth went to the wire. Princess Margaret caught up with four three-pointers, putting them within three, but the Towhees held them off, led by Greaves with 19 points and nine rebounds. Tortorelli scored 26 “hustle points,” most on the fast break, and led the team with seven assists. Cam Bell scored 13 points.

In the third game, Vanier beat Abby Christian 82-56. Abby had knocked off 4A power Thomas Haney, who had beaten another strong 4A team, WJ Mouatt of Abbotsford.

“Vanier figured they’d see a well coached, fundamentally sound Abby team, so they knew defence was a key, and sure enough, we pummelled them with great pressure D, outstanding rebounding, and loads of fast break opportunities,” Street said. “The team recorded a plus-100 for the game against a good team. Everyone scored, and all Towhees felt good about how the brotherhood played together.”

Tortorelli scored 32 points and seven rebounds, earning tournament MVP honours. Cam Bell had 10, Leopkey-Johnson had 19 and Greaves grabbed nine rebounds.

“A great ending to the first weekend tournament of the year.”

The Towhees play at the Guildford Park Tournament in Surrey, Thursday to Saturday.

Home games start early January.

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