The high-school basketball season kicks into high gear in the Peace Region this weekend as four local teams are set to visit two separate tournaments.
The Dawson Creek senior boys and girl’s head to Grande Prairie for the 10th Annual Wolves Senior Basketball Classic, hosted every year by Grande Prairie Regional College. While the Mountain Christian Rams boy’s basketball team and the DCSS juniors head to Tumbler Ridge.
The Wolves Classic is one of the largest high school tournaments in Western Canada, which attracts 16 boys and 16 girl’s squads from British Columbia, Alberta, Northwest Territories and the Yukon.
DCSS boy’s coach Rich Payne said the tourney would be a good early-season test for the Penguins, who return with five seniors this year.
“They are looking pretty good, it’s one of the taller teams I’ve had in a while,” said Payne who looks to the Penguins’ size and experience to give them the upper hand against their counterparts.
The Pens’ will lean on the frontcourt prowess of seniors Andrew Knee and Dylan McCallum, while depending on guards Chris Schlauwitz (Grade 10), Donny Haycock and Kelvin Meinecke to run the offence.
“We have a lot of skill this year,” added Payne whose team will first face Peace Wapiti Academy of Grande Prairie Friday morning on PWA’s home court.
The senior girl’s, coached by Emily Rivard, play their first game of the tournament versus Valleyview’s Hillside High School – also on Friday morning.
“They are very dedicated and excited for the tournament,” said Rivard. “I am very confident in the girls, they have been working very hard.”
DCSS girl’s team hopes to keep the ball rolling following a commanding 51-34 exhibition win over North Peace last week.
Rivard brings back three returning Grade 12’s. Guards Sydney Sandnes and Tana Gibson will be leading the Penguins’ backcourt along with fellow senior Danielle Gibson.
“All three are large assets to our team,” noted Rivard.
Rams’ head coach Josh Slykhuis says his team is looking to rebuild after losing some core players to graduation, players that helped the Rams to a single-A provincials berth last season.
“Our goal this year is to rebuild after losing three players last year and making it to provincials for the first time in school history,” said Slykhuis.
Dave Hutchinson and Erik Labrentz are the Rams only seniors, but last year’s junior players Sebastian Van Spronsen, and Caleb and Ruben Ross return with the experience gained from playing at last year’s provincials.
“Our hope is that we can run teams into the ground with our full-court press and our speed,” added Slykhuis.
The Tumbler Ridge tournament is an eight-team draw. Slykhuis expects Northside Christian School of Vanderhoof, B.C. and Fort Nelson to be the two teams MCS will have to contend with for a shot at the tournament finals.