Still ranked first in the province, Brentwood College School will go into the Island AA boys basketball championships this week as the top seed, but head coach Blake Gage isn’t taking anything for granted.
Even as the host team, Brentwood won’t have an easy run as the team aims for a top-three spot that will lead to a berth in the provincial tournament.
“There are three [Island] teams ranked in the top five in the province and two honourable mentions,” Gage pointed out. “It’s one of the strongest zones. Obviously what happens this weekend will dictate what happens going into provincials as far as rankings are concerned.”
In addition to Brentwood, Lambrick Park and St. Michael’s University School are also ranked in the top five provincially. Parkland and Shawnigan Lake School have received honourable mentions recently. In Gage’s view, all five of those teams could contend for a provincial berth, while Kwalikum and Highland will be looking to play spoilers.
“It’s playoff basketball,” the coach said. “It’s one game. Anything could happen.”
Not surprisingly, Brentwood won the North Island tournament last weekend. After a bye through the first round, Gage’s team took care of Highland easily in the semis, then beat Shawnigan in the final.
While it would be nice to win the Island championship, a top-three finish this week is the most important thing.
“Our No. 1 goal is to survive and move on this time of year,” he said. “Obviously winning this would be great in terms of seeding and setting ourselves up for success at provincials.”
Brentwood opens the tournament against Glenlyon Norfolk School this Thursday at 2 p.m. A win there would put the team in the semifinals on Friday at 5:30 p.m., where they could very well face SMUS. The third-place game goes Saturday at 5:30 p.m., followed by the Island final at 7:15 p.m.
“The final is exciting, but in many ways, the third-fourth game will be the bigger game,” Gage noted. “Both teams in the final qualify [for provincials], but in the third-fourth, it’s do or die.”