Brentwood College’s senior boys team played some of its best basketball of the season at the Island AA championships last weekend, and nearly found themselves with a berth at the provincial tournament.
“We came painfully close,” said head coach Blake Gage, whose team lost 62-58 to Highland in the battle for third place – and a place at provincials – last Saturday. “The guys played really, really well in the last game. We should have them, but we tightened up in the last few minutes and didn’t execute. I was really proud of the way the boys played. It was an excellent game.”
Brentwood opened with a 63-59 win over John Barsby on Thursday, which Gage called the team’s weakest game of the tournament. On Friday, they lost 79-38 in the second round to a Lambrick Park team that would go on to lose the final by just two points.
Down 14 points at halftime, the Brentwood coaches made the difficult decision to rest their starters for a busy Saturday rather than leave them in for an unlikely comeback.
“We emptied the bench pretty early in the second,” Gage recalled. “The guys we put in played great. I was really happy with their effort.”
On Saturday morning, the shooting of Skyler Rustad, defence of Paul Lee and rebounding of Devin Cvitanovich spurred Brentwood to a 68-52 win over a big, physical Kwalikum team and into the thirdplace game.
In the game against Highland, Cvitanovich scored 19 points and added 10 rebounds, Rustad scored 12 on 4-for-6 shooting from outside the arc, Lee had six assists and five steals on his way to a tournament allstar
berth, and Kadon Ricard came off the bench to score 10 in his final game with Brentwood.
Graduating this year along with Ricard are Harrison Backer, Aidan Carr and Woody Lee, but Cvitanovich, Paul Lee and Sean Monteiro lead a strong returning pack.
“Unlike last year, we’ve got a good group coming back who have played significant minutes this year,” Gage said.
Shawnigan Lake School also played in the Island tournament, losing 57-35 to Highland and 60-37 to Kwalikum to finish seventh.
“We were in the first game for a while, but turnovers just killed us,” head coach Vito Pasquale said. “They put a press on us, and we had trouble scoring.”
Highland poured in the three-pointers to take a double-digit lead early and kept rolling.
“In our second game, we lost the grip on things against Kwalikum,” Pasquale recalled. “We were right in the game until the end when we lost our nerve.”
Phillip Norris led Shawnigan over the weekend, specifically on the glass.
“He rebounded really well,” Pasquale said. “He’s been one of our top scorers all year, but he worked really hard at helping us rebound on the weekend.”
Shawnigan only graduates four players, and with a strong batch of juniors coming up, Pasquale is optimistic about the future.
“For our juniors to go so far and battle as far as they did sure helps,” they’ll have valuable experience.”