Silver just a start for jr. T-Birds

Cowichan Secondary School’s junior boys basketball team will look to build on a second-place finish at last weekend’s home tournament as the playoffs approach.

With some of the best teams in the province at Cow High for the Thunderbird Classic, the junior T-Birds demonstrated that they are right in the mix, and nearly came away with the top prize.

"Second place in our tournament was a good finish," Cowichan head coach Lucky Walia said. "However, collectively, I think we all believe we could have won. The competition was very good, and for the most part, we met the challenge. There are a handful of things for us to work out, but we have practice time to do that."

The T-Birds made it to the tournament final last Saturday before suffering their first loss, 46-37 against Langley’s Walnut Grove.

"We were leading at halftime against Walnut Grove in the final, and had opportunities to increase that gap if we had been a bit sharper on offence," Walia noted. "That said, they are the No. 3 team in the province [fourth after Monday’s rankings were released], and they were going to make some adjustments on their end, too."

The T-Birds, ranked eighth going into the tourney, were slotted 10th in Monday’s update. Tournament all-star Noah Charles paced Cowichan in the final with 16 points, while Humza Khan and Connor Hayer had eight apiece.

Cowichan opened the tournament with a 54-28 victory over St. Michael’s University School in the quarterfinal on Friday. Charles led the way with 17 points, Khan added 12 and Jamie Friesen chipped in with 10.

Charles scored a tournament high 28 in a 47-43 semifinal win over St. George’s on Saturday. Khan was second on the team with seven points.

This coming weekend, Cowichan will head to the Central Island tournament, which includes host Brentwood College and Shawnigan Lake School as well as Gulf Islands Secondary. Only one squad will advance to Islands.

"Moving forward, our plan is to get ready for the Central Island tournament, a tournament that we are hoping to win, but we do understand that winning is not something we can take for granted," Walia said. "We are considered the favourites going in to this weekend, but it takes some maturity to focus on each small task along the way, and realize that our opponents will be preparing, and trying to do their best as well."

Shawnigan and Brentwood play on Friday at 3:30 p.m., followed by Cowichan and Gulf Islands at 5 p.m. The third-place game is at 1 p.m. on Saturday, and the championship goes at 2:30 p.m.