The Carihi senior boys basketball team is clearly peaking at the right time.
Entering the North Vancouver Island AAA Senior Boys basketball tournament this week, the Tyees are on a five-game winning streak that includes the championship of the inaugural RCMP Invitational tournament at Timberline and a four-overtime win in a crucial elimination game last Thursday againt Ballenas Secondary of Parksville.
“It was unbelievable,” Carihi coach Ray Wilson said of the 85-84 home win over Ballenas, which clinched the Tyees a spot in the AAA Island championship tournament Feb. 26-28 in Victoria. “I’ve never, as long as I’ve played and coached, been part of a game like that.”
Brodie Doherty scored a game-high 33 points in what Wilson called his best game ever. Jaret Knowles and Dace Harle added 14 points each.
A loss to Ballenas would have ended the team’s postseason hopes. Instead, the win helped spur the squad to three more wins Friday and Saturday and the championship of the eight-team RCMP Invitational at Timberline.
The leg-weary Tyees followed up Thursday’s four-overtime thriller with a slow start the next night in their tournament opener, but rallied for a 67-53 win over Brooks Secondary of Powell River.
In Saturday’s semifinal, Carihi was matched against their Vancouver Island North division nemesis, Mark Isfeld of Courtenay. Mark Isfeld topped Carihi for the top spot in the league this year, but the Tyees emerged with a 49-45 victory.
“We haven’t beaten them for some time,” Wilson said.
That win lifted Carihi into Saturday night’s championship game, a rematch against Ballenas. The back-and-forth contest seemed destined for another overtime before the Tyees’ Dace Harle drained a 3-point shot with eight seconds remaining to give Carihi a 60-59 win.
“I’ve had teams before where they peaked before Christmas, or in January,” said Wilson. “This time, I think it’s a case where we’re hot at the right time. Hopefully we can keep playing that way.”
Host Timberline lost its first three tournament games, but wrapped up with its own bit of drama, pulling out a 56-55 win over Brooks in the seventh-place game.
Carihi faced Nanaimo District Secondary School, ranked eighth in the province, in the opening game of the North Island tournament last night, after the Mirror went to press. They play their final game in the tourney today at Mark Isfeld.
Timberline’s Mike Dawson breaks around a Brooks defender in the Wolves’ 56-55 nailbiter victory for seventh place. Alistair Taylor/Campbell River Mirror