The Highland boys pictured in a game against Shawnigan Lake. Photo supplied

The Highland boys pictured in a game against Shawnigan Lake. Photo supplied

Highland senior boys qualify for AA Island basketball tourney

The Highland senior boys basketball team has qualified for the AA Island tournament, which starts Thursday at Brentwood Bay.

Coach Martin Paul said It was a good first season back after the trials and tribulations of COVID. The team has a strong selection of Grade 11 and 12 players, along with a talent from Grade 10. The season started slowly with several tournaments cancelled due to Omicron; however, the team practised four times a week and arranged some exhibitions to prepare for bigger tournaments.

“The boys worked hard on their games and all the concepts I taught them, and this led to some great wins or close losses to teams that earlier in the season had our number,” Paul said.

Highland kicks off the Island tourney at 7:15 p.m. Thursday against Lambrick Park, the number two-ranked AA team in B.C.

“Whatever happens, we keep six players going into next season and will bring up a host of talented juniors,” Paul said. “The future of Highland’s basketball program is bright.”

He credits an “amazing assistant coach” in Justin Mcnamara, who helps with player development in terms of ball handling, finishing around the rim and shooting.

Highland is led by sharpshooter Tyler Preston, who averaged 5.5 threes in three games at North Islands. Grade 10 David Martinez always finds a way to get to the rim, and form a lot of steals. Walker Maximus is a defensive stalwart who averages four or more blocks a game, and forces lots of bad shots. He also has a “bullet-like outlet pass due to his baseball talents,” Paul said.

The Highland senior girls team finished fifth at AA Islands last weekend at St. Michaels University School in Victoria, ahead of Ladysmith and Kwalikum. Carly Tutt, Mackenzie Stevens and Emma Warren earned player-of-the-game awards over three games. In their final game Saturday, the girls played hard but came up short against a hot-shooting team from Lambrick Park.

Boys basketballComox Valley