Dover goes to big dance

Dover Bay Dolphins player Chris Erickson

Dover Bay Dolphins player Chris Erickson

Getting to this tournament is the goal of all of B.C.’s best high school basketball teams.

And now that they’ve made it to the big dance, why not do some damage while they’re there?

The Dover Bay Dolphins and 19 other senior AAA boys’ basketball teams begin play this week at provincial championships in Langley.

It’s the third straight trip to provincials for coach Mark Simpson and the Dolphins. This time around he’s got a team made up of mostly Grade 12s who have experience at B.C.’s toughest tournament.

“Everybody seems to bring their game up to the next level,” said Chris Erickson, Dolphins Grade 12 player. “It seems like everyone’s that much more jacked up and it’s that much harder to score and that much harder to make stops. It’s going to be a lot of fun, though.”

Dover would be psyched up at this time of year regardless. After winning the Island championship last weekend on star Jason McKee’s improbable buzzer-beater, though, the players love basketball more than ever.

“I still can’t believe that it happened, myself,” said Connor Billett, another Grade 12 player. “It excites the whole team. I think it makes me work harder as a player. Anyone wants to be that guy hitting that shot.”

Players said it’s a boost knowing they can win even when they’re down to their very last shot.

“All of us have been feeding off of it,” said Rory Bell, also a Grade 12 player. “It’s just great – confidence is a big thing going into a tournament like this.”

The Dolphins start the tourney tomorrow (March 16), probably against the Pitt Meadows Marauders. Pitt is led by provincial team player Malcolm Williams, who came up with a 33-point game last week with his team facing elimination at the Fraser Valley championships.

“We’re just going to have to execute on offence and be physical inside,” said Erickson. “Physicality’s the biggest thing because the mainland’s a lot more physical than the Island.”

Bell said the Dolphins have tried to prepare by upping their intensity at practice.

“We’ve got to want it more than the other team,” he said.

They want it. Winning an Island championship, even in remarkable fashion, doesn’t mean the Dolphins have achieved all their goals this season.

“Definitely not … You can’t be like, ‘Oh, we made it to provincials, we’re done now,’” said McKee, also in Grade 12. “We want to go there and compete our best every game. If we play our best and we lose to a good team then that’s all we can [ask for] but if we don’t compete our hardest then we’re not going to be happy with ourselves.”

Especially since it’s the last high school basketball for so many of Dover’s players.

“It’s weird that basketball’s going to be over,” Billett said. “It’s kind of sad but I guess it’s exciting, as well, knowing that you’ve got to go as hard as you can, it’s your last shot.”

The Dolphins know a little bit about how to hit their last shot. So here goes.

“We definitely want to have a positive experience, good memories to go out on,” McKee said.

GAME ON … The Dolphins play either Pitt or Caledonia at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Langley Events Centre.

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