Head coach of the Belmont junior boys’ basketball team, Curt Spaven, doesn’t know if he will have the pleasure of coaching a more special group of people than he did this year.
And what makes it extra special is that his players feel the same way about him.
The team finished fourth at the B.C. basketball championships after being a No. 23 seed entering the tournament, and beat three top 10 schools before losing to Lord Tweedsmuir in the semi finals.
Spaven is as proud of his team’s off the court accomplishments as he is on the court, he has seven honour roll students on his team, and is humbled by how respectful the players are, he said.
“They all shake my hand and thank me for my time after practice and ask me if there’s anything they can work on,” he said.
When the players were asked if they had any last thoughts on the season, each one of them wanted to give a shout-out thanking Spaven and assistant coach Aaron Williams for being an inspiration to them.
“Curt’s coached me since I was in fifth grade,” Adrian Vicente said. “So I’ve known him for a long time and I really appreciate all the time he puts in, he has seven kids at home and spends a lot of time away from his family.”
Of course, every day isn’t perfect, but the players felt that everyone involved with the team created a perfect storm for this season’s success.
“It was a team effort, if we were missing one we couldn’t do what we did, we needed everyone to do their part and chip in,” Hunter Thomson said.
The team was deep, there wasn’t one player that took home every all-star all the time, it was spread around. Cole Belton was an all-star at the Victoria City Championships, Markus Modrovic took home two all-stars from the Island and provincial championships and Thomson was honourable mention at provincials.
The team came down with strep throat at provincials that spread throughout the whole team so Spaven gave them a pep talk about how he played in an important game when he was at Malaspina College and was sick with a high fever.
“You can will yourself to do amazing things, it’s an hour and a half, so do what you gotta do,” Spaven said.
Bulldogs point guard, Riley Merryweather, found it difficult to direct on the floor without his voice, but he wasn’t going to miss the biggest tournament of the season.
Even though they didn’t play at optimum health, they didn’t make any excuses for their shortcomings in the semi-finals. The Bulldogs were down early and didn’t shoot as well as they could have.
The Bulldogs went nine for 31 against Tweedsmuir’s zone defense.
The team had a season wrap-up party at Belton’s house, but it’s not the end persay, they are all friends and get together all the time, it just happened to be a special occasion they were celebrating this time around, Merryweather said.
Spaven isn’t sure if he will be back next season, basketball is a big time commitment and he would like to spend more time with his family. He is going to take some time and think about it, he said. He has coached at Belmont for four years, but has coached night league basketball in the West Shore for eight years and he loves helping kids learn the game.
For the players, they are looking forward to next season, hoping to make the senior team and another run at provincials.
“It was a roller coaster of a season, but we finished it on a high note,” Belton said.