Last weekend’s senior boys season opener tournament at Carihi High was a good chance to see how several local teams are coming together for the next senior boys high school basketball season.
The Timberline Wolves made it to the final by winning Pool A over Mark Isfeld Ice and Gulf Islands Scorpions and faced in the final Bishop Carroll Cardinals who were visiting from Calgary. The Cards played some excellent ball, beating Carihi and Nanaimo District S.S. on Friday.
The Wolves were missing Damon Reece who was out of town and Keenan MacLeod due to a broken hand. David Young was also sidelined for the final due to an elbow sustaining a serious mouth injury requiring stitches from Friday’s play. This left only seven boys dressed for the final.
Thanks to some great efforts by all the boys against the quick and well balanced Cards, the Wolves managed to keep pace for a slight lead into the third quarter. The boys really came together as a team, with Greg Perry, Mitch Nemeth, Wyatt Bryce, Sam Phillips, Elton Zigah, Fergus Arnold, and Mark Berry showing some mid season form despite this being their first week of practice. Mark Nemeth, the new coach who stepped up just the week before, to save the Wolves’ season, had the boys working hard and showing their game, talent and skill in a back and forth physical battle. The Cards had travelled a long road to get here and were not giving up their chance to go home to Alberta a winner.
With still a quarter to go in the game, it was anyone’s to take. It would all come down to whoever wanted it the most.
The Wolves found themselves in serious foul trouble and with almost 9 minutes left in the game they were down to only four dressed players still in the game. Due to the fourth ejection it wasn’t long before they were down to three and it looked like their hopes to win were dashed.
No one expected them to win with only three players left in the game. Young, despite his obvious injury and pain, strapped on his jersey and entered the game to give the Wolves a chance, despite the fact they were still playing 4-on-5 for the rest of the game.
What happened next was amazing to witness. Phillips, Perry, Arnold and Young, through some incredible individual and team play managed to keep the Wolves in the game. This despite the efforts of the Cards to press and score pretty much at will, with the extra attacker. All the Wolves showed great heart and skill as they continued to keep pace with the Cards, who got within one basket with only a minute and half to go.
Individual end-to-end plays, excellent thinking on their feet and making shots when the opportunities came, lead the Wolves to a thriller of a finish, and victory, to take this year’s first tournament of the year.
The regular season starts this week, with Highlands visiting Timberline and Carihi High taking on Mark Isfeld in Courtenay on Tuesday. Get out and support this year’s season, which runs until playoffs in mid February.