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Basketball programs take home hardware

Girls win California tournament and boys win in Victoria

The+boys+basketball+team+celebrates+their+championship+victory+at+the+UVic+Alumni+Invitational+tournament+in+Victoria%2C+BC.+
The boys basketball team celebrates their championship victory at the UVic Alumni Invitational tournament in Victoria, BC.

The boys basketball team celebrates their championship victory at the UVic Alumni Invitational tournament in Victoria, BC.

Christian J. Stewart

Christian J. Stewart

The boys basketball team celebrates their championship victory at the UVic Alumni Invitational tournament in Victoria, BC.

Melina Monlux, Staff Reporter

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GIRLS

Over the break, the girls basketball team traveled to California to compete against schools from across the country in the Surf N’ Slam tournament in San Diego.

“We discussed some goals for the tournament a little before we left. We wanted to play our best, obviously, but we also wanted to focus on team bonding and really putting in effort to get to know people we weren’t as close with,” junior Trinity Cho said.

The program had participated in this tournament once before under the current coaching staff four years ago, but this year, the girls experienced far more success.

“We ended up winning all our games, so we won our division for the whole tournament, which was just a really fun moment that gave us something to be proud of for the rest of the season,” Cho said.

The ladies played three games to clinch the title, starting with a matchup to open the tournament against a team from Hanover, Vermont.

“We were playing against teams we didn’t really know much about, which was a bit unusual for us. We normally scout the teams really well before we play them,” sophomore Kate Rutledge said.

It may have shown a bit in the first game, which was close.

“To be honest, I don’t think we played our best in the first game. It was really close, and we only ended up winning by five,” Cho said.

The girls learned from their mistake in the first game and kicked it up a gear for the second.

“We came out with so much energy for the second game, and our defense was really strong[…] it felt really good to win that one, because last year we had a ton of games where we were in those same situations and lost. I think [Coach] Tom and [Coach] Sara were really proud of us for being able to push through like that,” Cho said.

After the second game, the team advanced to the finals, and came away victorious. Much of that success, according to players and coaches alike, came as a result of a stellar performance from sophomore Kate Rutledge, who ended up receiving MVP of the tournament.

“Kate played very well the whole tournament. She scored double digits throughout, and was very consistent. In our first game especially, I don’t think we would have won if it wasn’t for her,” Cho said.

Rutledge received the award unexpectedly during the ceremony, after the team received the plaque for their victory.

“Getting MVP felt really good, because I wasn’t expecting it at all. I was happy about it, but I was more proud of our team for winning,” Rutledge said.

In addition to all the success on the court, the team also accomplished their goal of bonding through team activities such as going to the beach, the San Diego Zoo and Knott’s Berry Farm.

“I think we will definitely take what we learned in California home. We learned how to play more as a team, through getting to know each other better. I’m expecting to see much more unity on the court in the coming games,” Rutledge said.

BOYS

The boys basketball team crossed the border this break to participate in the UVic Alumni Invitational in Victoria, BC. They went into the tournament with a competitive mindset, which led them to the first place trophy.

“We just really wanted to win, because we play in the Metro League, and we face a lot of really hard teams…so it was cool to be able to prove that we are a good team and are worthy of playing in that league,” senior captain Simon Czyzewski said.

But playing in a different country brought its own challenges, and the boys had to readjust quickly.

“For most of us, it was our first time going to Canada. It was a pretty unique experience getting to play a worldwide sport in a different country than the United States. They have very similar rules but some of them are different, so we kind of had to relearn some of the rules of basketball and adapt to their style of play,” Czyzewski said.

Some of these variations included a limit of three people to rebound on free throws and goaltending rules that enable players to hit away the ball if it rests on the rim for a designated amount of time. There are no five-second calls, the key is much larger and the three-point line was college. The time is also different, with four 10-minute quarters making for 40-minute games as opposed to 32-minute games.

The boys team was able to focus in nonetheless, and win three games for the tournament title.

“We played really good team basketball while we were there. Our guards Fresh and Shay did a good job of getting it moving and sharing it. Val and Thomas had really good games inside,” Czyzewski said.

This success can also be attributed to good execution.

“All of our sets were working for us and that’s why we were able to score so easily, because we just followed the plays and were able to get good shots. We also started to pressure full court which helped us because we jumped the teams and…got a lot of fast break layups,” Czyzewski said.

Although the team was able to win by a significant margin in all three games (defeating Lambrick Park by 21, Walnut Grove by 14 and Harry Ainlay by 28), the second game against Walnut Grove proved to be a challenge.

“They were continuing an undefeated season, and were the number one team in their province in Western Canada. They had two 6’8”/6’9” guys that we had to really box out and we were struggling in the first half because they were just getting rebounds and putting back shots,” Czyzewski said.

The game was tight the majority of the time, until Ballard was able to pull ahead with a 13-0 run in the beginning of the fourth quarter.

“They were getting really frustrated, because they weren’t used to losing, and started getting mad at each other and playing selfish, and we were able to take advantage of that,” Czyzewski said.

The boys then moved on to their final game against Harry Ainlay, who they defeated 87-59. Senior captains Simon Czyzewski and Valentin Boyanov made the UVic all tournament team, and senior captain Shay Curcuruto was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.

The team is looking forward to finishing strong the remainder of the season.

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Basketball programs take home hardware