The Ladysmith Secondary School Junior Boys basketball team defeated the NDSS Islanders on Saturday night to capture the District Championship. (Mike Gregory Photo).

Ladysmith Secondary Junior Boys survive late surge to win district champs

Spectators squirmed in the stands on Saturday night as they watched a feisty Nanaimo team get hot late in the final of the district basketball championship against the Ladysmith Secondary Junior Boys and nearly steal the game.

Trailing for the entire game, the Nanaimo District Secondary School Islanders drained three treys with a minute left against the 49ers, who have been undefeated in league play this season.

However, LSS retained possession in the final moments to avoid any chance of NDSS hitting a buzzer beater as the home team won with a final score of 43-42.

RELATED: Basketball playoff madness hits Ladysmith Secondary throughout February

LSS athletic director and coach Daryl Rodgers said the level of talent on both benches meant the potential for a back and forth matchup.

“I figured it would be a close game in the final,” he said. “We played them two times earlier in the year and beat them by 20 (points) but I knew they were missing a guy and their shooting was off. I knew we could expect a much closer game this time and it was going to be a battle.”

Ladysmith led from the opening tipoff and went on a 9-0 run before finishing the first quarter with a 17-9 lead sparked by Reece Melnick, Russel Robinson and Eric Gueldenstern, who led the team with a game high 14 points.

The matchup intensified in the second frame as NDSS fought back to within one basket but still trailed 26-23 at halftime.

“We put a few things in practice that we thought might help us during the game and it worked for us and we got a few baskets in key times,” Rodgers noted following the win. “The kids have just been working hard and putting in the effort and it’s showing because they’re improving all the time.”

Robinson and Melnick went back to work for LSS in the third quarter for a combined seven points as the home team pushed their lead back to 37-31.

In the fourth, Gueldenstern drained a pair of baskets and Brandon Melsness added a third as LSS went ahead by double digits.

NDSS then decided to test its luck from beyond the arc and was rewarded with a quick nine points in the final 60 seconds but the baskets came too late as LSS came out on top.

A core group of the Junior Boys squad is from the Grade 8 team that finished 14th at provincials last season.

Rodgers said all players have been putting in the time necessary to be successful at a high level.

“They’re in the gym all the time, at lunch shooting around, and have a good basketball IQ,” he said. “We don’t have the tallest team so it’s all about that work ethic and putting in that time.”

The LSS Juniors now head to North Islands in Campbell River where they’ll need at least a top four to advance to the Island Championship in two weeks.

“We know there’s going to be good competition and a lot of close games,” said Rodgers, adding that the focus will be on staying healthy and polishing up on a few skills.


The LSS 49ers’ Eric Gueldenstern steals the ball during the third quarter of the Junior Boys District Championship final in Ladysmith on Saturday night. (Mike Gregory Photo)

Just Posted

Nanaimo Astronomy Society to host Vancouver Island’s first AstroFest

AstroFest will showcase Island’s amateur and professional astronomical groups and activities

Nanaimo Sport Achievement Awards announce winners

VIU women’s volleyball is Team of the Year, Presidents Cup lacrosse is Sports Story of the Year

Vehicle smashes through front of furniture store in Nanaimo

No injuries reported in Friday afternoon incident on Mostar Road

Island Health dealing with ‘surge’ of measles vaccination requests in Nanaimo

No measles cases on Vancouver Island says Island Health

More sailings coming to 10 BC Ferries’ routes

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said the sailings were originally cut in 2014

Indigenous leaders, politicians say Trans Mountain report flawed

The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline a second time

Beefs & Bouquets, Feb. 21

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail

Have you heard the legend of Shuswaggi, the Shuswap Lake monster?

Witness accounts as old as 1904, and as recent as 2018, place a creature in the lake’s depths

Credit card fraud steals $50,000 from Victoria businesses: police

Crime Reduction Unit investigating several frauds costing several businesses over $50,000

UPDATE: B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

B.C.-based ‘Team Tardi’ brings home gold in junior curling worlds

In a 9-4 victory over Switzerland, a Langley-based curling team earned its 2nd straight world title

People gather for funeral of seven children killed in fast-moving Halifax fire

Traditional portion of the service will be followed by words from community members

B.C. weavers to help Alaska Native project honouring survivors of violence

Dozens of Chilkat and Ravenstail weavers from all over North America will be weaving 5-inch-by-5-inch squares

B.C. skip Sarah Wark and team eliminated at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

Nontheless pretty impressive stuff from the 24th-ranked team in the country

Most Read