Despite two tournaments over the holiday break there will still be plenty of time to rest for members of the Oak Bay boys senior basketball team.
Which is just as well with multiple players heading into the break with a cold, and starting point guard Jaime Palamos still waiting to play his first game since breaking his fibula during a Bays high school soccer game earlier this school year.
The Bays opened their Gary Taylor Classic senior and junior boys basketball tournament with a 118-49 shellacking of Cowichan High on Thursday. It put them into Friday’s semifinal against Dover Bay. Visitors to the tournament included Vancouver College , St. Thomas More and St. Peter the Apostle .
Coming off the departure of the Bays’ big three from last year, Jordane Burke, Ewan McKenzie, and Diego Maffia, the team returns just three players including Grade 12 starters Palamos and Ethan Moore.
“This year is about the transition to a younger team,” Moore said. “We have two Grade 9s who play regularly and without those [graduated] guys, we have to get used to playing together.”
Those Grade 9 players? They are Griffin Arnatt and Matthew Magnan and Moore said they are on the big team for a reason, ready to contribute. The goal is to figure it out by the time city playoffs start in February, Moore added.
Palamos is aiming to be back when Lower Island high school league starts again on Jan. 14. That day the Bays host the Lambrick Park Lions. The international from Valencia, Spain, convinced his family to ship him here after Oak Bay’s rugby team visited his town two years ago.
“The rugby team explained the league and the culture here and I wanted to come,” Palamos said. “Now I’m hoping to earn a scholarship and stay.”
Following the Gary Taylor that ends on Dec. 21, the Bays will take a break until Dec. 28, which is the opening of the University of Victoria Vikes Alumni Senior Boys Basketball Invitational, at UVic’s CARSA Performance Gym.
“The holiday tournaments are great to help us develop as a team and get used to each other and our [systems],” Moore said.
Teams from across the province and one from New Brunswick will make up the 10-team field at UVic. Oak Bay will join Belmont Bulldogs, Claremont Spartans, Dover Bay and GP Vanier Towhees from the Island. Visiting are B.C.’s top-ranked AAAA team Centennial (per Varsity Letters), Vernon (ranked third in B.C. among AAA), Ross Sheppard (Edmonton), Fredericton High School (N.B.) and a return by the Vancouver College Fighting Irish (the Irish left a few starters at home for the Gary Taylor tournament, and are predicted to be stronger at UVic).
To start the year, local basketball website Sport Victoria has Claremont ranked at No. 1 among AAAA Island schools. Much of that has to do with future UVic Vikes forward Ethan Boag, who is 6-foot-8.
“Claremont, Vanier, Belmont, they’re all good,” Moore said.
Tickets to the UVic tourney are $25 for an adult tournament pass and $12 for a day pass. That’s $12 for a student tournament pass and $5 per day. Children under six are free.