Belmont's Jackson Leeder eyes up his passing options while being closely guarded by Alberni Armada's Kevin Titian

Bulldogs’ bench players gain hardwood experience

Mini tournament gets Belmont basketball boys tuned up for the busy remainder of season

Billed as a play-day style tournament, the Belmont Bulldogs’ Back to School boys basketball weekend saw senior and junior teams shake off some Christmas rust.

Bulldogs seniors coach Kevin Brown fully expected to use the event to get his bench players more floor time. By the time Saturday’s final game rolled around, with two starters injured and a third battling the flu, he found himself having to rely even more on less-experienced players – two Grade 9 players were recruited to fill out the bench.

After building a 47-27 halftime lead, the Bulldogs allowed Alberni to get back into the game with some aggressive inside play. Helped by some critical three-pointers from Jack Wenstob in the second half, Belmont held off the visitors’ charge and posted a 71-63 victory, their second of the tournament.

Having defeated Pacific Christian School Pacers 64-56 in a hard-fought game Friday, the Bulldogs saw their 42-27 halftime lead over Nanaimo’s Dover Bay Dolphins evaporate in a 72-69 loss in Saturday’s first game.

“It’s growing pains,” Brown said after the final game. “The less-experienced guys, I think they did make some progress, they did get better. Luckily we came out on top of this game. The Dover game, we didn’t deserve to win; we didn’t take care of the ball when we needed to and kind of fell apart at the end.”

Sitting at 2-2 heading into yesterday’s (Jan. 6) critical city league matchup at Claremont and looking at the Spartans’ tournament there this weekend, the Bulldogs are building toward the South Island AAAA playoffs in February.

The goal is to peak at the right time and have everyone on the same page and understanding their role, Brown said.

“We have a busy December and that’s the time I like to get the starters going,” he said. “This time of year is great to get the bench going. You never know what happens in January and sometimes some of those bench players make their way onto the starting lineup. The kids that are in the gym over the Christmas holidays and going for runs and whatnot trying to get better, it’s the perfect time for this kind of stuff.”

Belmont’s next home league games are Jan. 22 against Mount Douglas and Jan. 24 versus Lambrick Park.

The Bulldogs junior boys saw some valuable playing time as well over the weekend. They dropped a 52-41 decision to Lambrick on Saturday and lost 52-40 to Cowichan on Friday.

In the paint … Wenstob topped the scoresheet for Belmont against PCS (28 points) and Dover Bay (20 pts.), while Jackson Leeder had 19 against Dover Bay and 20-plus in the Alberni game.

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