High school b-ball playoffs intensify

Wellington Wildcats player Nate Brown, middle, attacks the basket in a game earlier this month at Wellington Secondary School gym. The
Wellington Wildcats player Nate Brown, middle, attacks the basket in a game earlier this month at Wellington Secondary School gym. The 'Cats are hosting North Islands starting Thursday (Feb. 24).
— image credit: File photo

Crunch time has arrived for all of the city’s high school basketball teams.

Senior AAA boys’ teams start the North Island championships on Thursday (Feb. 24) and the rest of the divisions move to Island championship tournaments.

Nanaimo fans will be able to see playoff basketball up close as the Wellington Secondary School gym is hosting senior AAA boys’ North Islands. The host Wildcats tip off the tourney at 2 p.m. Thursday against Brooks, the Nanaimo District Islanders take to the court against G.P. Vanier at 3:45 p.m. and then the favoured Dover Bay Dolphins take on Alberni at 7:15 p.m.
The championship game will be Saturday at 7 p.m.

Dover’s senior girls, meanwhile, will be stepping on the court at Port Alberni to try to capture an Island championship. The team won the North Island crown last weekend in its home gym, but Islands are a significant step up – in its first game Thursday, Dover has to face Spectrum, a team it lost to earlier this season.

Walter Fields, coach of the Dolphins girls, said his squad is playing with more confidence now and knows what it might take to beat Spectrum.

“Shoot the ball a little better, defend a little better – we’re defending well – and hopefully we’ll win,” he said.

Most of Nanaimo’s senior AA teams also get the chance to compete for an Island championship after surviving last week’s North Islands. One of the teams that’s most jacked up for Islands is the Woodlands Eagles senior AA boys, who won the North Island championship last weekend in unexpected fashion.

“Being able to come together at the right time is one of the hardest things to coach and to get done, but it looks like we’ve done a pretty good job of that,” said Joey Spillman, Eagles coach. “Whether we win or lose [at Islands], they’re all winners and as long as they go out and play their hardest for 40 minutes, that’s all you can ask of them.”

The Cedar Spartans will be joining the Eagles at senior AA boys’ Islands Thursday through Saturday at Ladysmith Secondary School. Cedar tips off the tourney against St. Michael's at 2 p.m. followed by Woodlands versus Shawnigan at 3:45 p.m.

Down in Victoria, the Spartans, Eagles and Wildcats will all be trying for a title at the senior AA girls’ Island championships. Cedar is the No. 1 seed out of the North Island, Woodlands is No. 2 and Wellington is No. 5.

Another local team starting playoff action this weekend is the Nanaimo Christian School Eagles. The senior A boys’ team is participating in Island championships in Ucluelet starting Friday.

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