Brentwood’s Ian Grabher was named an all-star as his team finished fifth at the Countdown to the Playoffs Tournament last weekend. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Brentwood boys aim for return to provincial hoops tournament

Defending AA champs finish fifth at home tourney

The current iteration of Brentwood College School’s senior boys basketball team bears little resemblance to the squad that won back-to-back provincial AA championships in 2017 and 2018, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a contender.

Brentwood finished tied with Lambrick Park for fifth place at last weekend’s Countdown to the Playoffs Tournament — the first senior boys tournament at the school’s new athletic facility — and the team is gearing up for a strong playoff run.

“People don’t expect too much from us, but the boys are working hard and getting better,” head coach Blake Gage said. “If we keep improving, we should be in the mix at the AA level. The team seems to be starting to gel, and this is the time of year you want to do that. I’m excited for them.”

Brentwood opened the tournament with a 76-60 win over Reynolds Secondary last Thursday, then lost 74-67 to Langley Christian on Friday and wrapped up with a 77-61 victory over Seycove on Saturday. Langley Christian went on to lose the title game to Nanaimo District 65-61.

Thanks to the new athletic facility, this was the first time that all 16 teams were able to compete at the same site. In the past, half the games have been played at Shawnigan Lake School. That system worked fine, but it was nice to have everyone close together, Gage said.

“Shawnigan was great to co-host with,” he commented. “It was a terrific tournament with them for many years. But having all the teams at one facility adds to the atmosphere.”

Shawnigan also competed in the tournament last weekend, losing to St. Patrick’s 81-76 and Britannia 71-61 before beating Edward Milne 81-33 to finish tied for 13th.

Brentwood’s team may not be as dominant as it was last year, but Gage is pleased with where things sit right now.

“At this point in the year, you want to keep getting better, and I think we did that,” he said. “It was a great way to get prepared for the postseason.”

With many key players graduating last year, this team has just three Grade 12s, including Countdown to the Playoffs Tournament all-star Ian Grabher, with the remainder of the squad in Grade 10 or 11.

“It’s a young team, but they’re growing up,” Gage said. “And we’re getting good leadership from the group of returning 12s.”

One of those Grade 12s, Ian Grabher, was named a tournament all-star.

Brentwood will head into the South Island playoffs next week, where the top four will advance to Islands. Three teams from Islands go on to provincials.

“I think we have a good chance to advance to Islands,” Gage said. “I would be disappointed if we don’t. Once we get to Islands, anything can happen.”

“That’s our goal, but it’s not going to be easy.”

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