Provincials oh so close

Shawnigan Lake player Henry Williams

Shawnigan Lake player Henry Williams

It’s that time of year when every victory is sweet and every defeat is crushing.

Eight of Nanaimo’s high school senior basketball teams are playing at Island championships this weekend, with three others hooping it up at North Islands.

One of the best stories out of Day 1 at Islands on Thursday was the Woodlands Eagles senior AA boys. Five days after winning the North Island championship, the Eagles pulled off an impressive 65-52 win over Shawnigan Lake at the Islands in Ladysmith.

“With how much we beat them by, it was a good confidence booster,” said Mike Skoropad, Eagles player. “We were expecting a very tough game and it was a tough game.”

But Shawnigan couldn’t match Woodlands’ shot-making. Theo Stewart, who scored 27 points, and Skoropad, who added 17, were deadly accurate from the field. When the opposition tried to double-team or triple-team the Eagles’ top scorers, other players stepped up and helped put the game out of reach.

The matchup was so important because it set up a game Friday against St. Michael’s, with the winner advancing to the Island final, and more importantly, gaining a berth in provincials.

“We are one game away because of all that hard work, all that time in the gym,” said Joey Sabo, who scored 11 points for the Eagles. “We work on our sets and we shoot, shoot, shoot and that’s paying off for us right now.”

The Cedar Spartans senior AA boys, meanwhile, have a trickier path ahead of them after dropping their first game at Islands on Thursday by a 72-53 score to St. Mike’s. Brandon McCarthy led Cedar with 19 points and Tom Bradley scored 10. Spartans player Colby Morgan said his team is disappointed because it felt it had a good chance to beat SMUS. Now the Spartans can’t afford another loss.

“We have to win our next one,” Morgan said. “Us Grade 12s are playing for our last season.”

The Island senior AA boys’ championship game is Saturday (Feb. 26) at 7 p.m. at Ladysmith Secondary School.

Also Saturday at 7 p.m. will be the senior AAA boys’ North Island championship at Wellington Secondary School.

The Dover Bay Dolphins are a good bet to be in that game as they hammered the Alberni Armada 75-25 on Thursday despite hardly playing some key starters. Ian Christison scored a game-high 12 points for Dover and Chris Erickson added 10.

The Wellington Wildcats were also winners on Day 1, beating Brooks 83-55. Piero Simovic led the ’Cats with 15 points, Andrew Miller scored 13 and Ethan Schulz scored 12.

The Nanaimo District Islanders, meanwhile, were defeated 94-51 by G.P. Vanier. Liam Goodall and Toni Huynh were ND’s top scorers.

The Nanaimo Christian School Eagles are playing in the senior A boys’ Island championships in Ucluelet starting Friday (Feb. 25).

In girls’ action, Dover Bay is playing for a senior AAA Island title at Port Alberni this weekend and Cedar, Woodlands and Wellington are at the senior AA Island championships in Victoria.