Just a few weeks into the season and it’s already been a busy one for the Belmont Bulldogs senior boys basketball team.
The latest test of the Langford school team’s skills was the Gary Taylor Classic tournament, in which the Bulldogs finished third with a 69-52 win over St. Michaels University School. The only loss Belmont suffered came at the hands of eventual champion Sir Winston Churchill from Calgary, 84-54 in the Friday night semifinals.
“We’ve got a fairly young team and I think they were intimidated,” said Bulldogs coach Kevin Brown, noting that Churchill is a big, strong team that plays a physical game. “We didn’t play our best game and didn’t have much energy. But as long as we learned from it …”
The Belmont boys got over the loss quickly, coming out and playing a solid end to end game against the Blue Jags to take third place.
“After playing such a disappointing game the night before, to come back and play them hard was important to go into the break and our tournament,” Brown said.
The Bulldogs host the annual Bill Spotswood tournament Dec. 28 to 30.
Belmont opened with a 91-86 win last Thursday over B.C. AAAA ninth-ranked Vancouver College Fighting Irish, a game that likely turned a few heads.
“The guys came ready to play,” Brown said of his players, who weren’t concerned with their opponent’s reputation. “We had watched them the weekend before. We were comfortable and knew what to expect from them.”
The Fighting Irish lost a narrow final at their own tournament that weekend in Vancouver, 79-73 to Oak Bay. The Bulldogs happened to be at the No Regrets tournament in North Shore and stopped by to watch the game.
Belmont had lost their opener 73-52 to eventual runner-up Handsworth of North Van, then peeled off three straight wins to finish sixth. The final victory was an 82-68 decision against Salmon Arm.
The Bulldogs went 2-1 at their first tourney of the season, the Cowichan Thunderbird Jamboree.
Brown said unlike past years, the team is getting scoring from a number of sources this season.
There’s just four Grade 12 players, led by tough-to-stop post Dante Bull and nimble point guard Nathan Zaragosa, who was out most of last season with a shoulder injury.
Grade 11 guard Nishad Tarak is proving to be a scoring threat from various points on the court, having averaged better than 20 points a game at the No Regrets tournament, including a 40-plus point effort in one game there. Fellow Grade 11 Julius Kennedy is sinking some big baskets from his shooting guard position, while Grade 10 callup Max Leeder was just too skilled to keep in junior another year, Brown said.
“We’ve got people in every position, so it’s nice,” he said. “This year we have options.”
Keeping things simple and moving the ball around, as opposed to counting on one or two players to carry the offensive load is a better way to keep opponents guessing, he added.
The upcoming Spotswood event feature the Bulldogs and seven other senior teams, including five mainland squad plus Nanaimo’s Dover Bay and Vanier from Courtenay.
The junior division, hosted by a Bulldogs team that lost the Taylor final to the Churchill JV squad, features 12 teams.
Ravens drop two at Edward Milne tournament
The Royal Bay senior boys were in action at Edward Milne in Sooke last weekend, but wound up losing a pair of close games to local opponents at the Wolverine Classic.
The Ravens opened Friday with a 55-52 loss to eventual champion Spectrum, then dropped a 51-42 decision to Vic High on Saturday morning.