With the playoffs drawing near, the Belmont Bulldogs senior girls basketball team has some benchmark games coming up.
The team has just two games left in the regular season, but this weekend the Bulldogs host the final Bill Spotswood Memorial tournament in the gym named for the late longtime teacher and Belmont coach.
Head coach Brad Lidstone likes the way his players and team are rounding into shape as they prepare for the weekend’s five-team round robin event and South Island AAA playoffs.
“We’ve won three games in a row if you count our tournament play,” he pointed out this week, as the Bulldogs prepared for tomorrow’s (Jan. 22) league game at Reynolds. “I think we’ll take a lot of momentum into our city tournament. I feel they’re playing their best basketball of the season to this point.”
While the top two spots in the city AAA league will most likely come down to Oak Bay and Claremont, the next two berths are seriously up for grabs, with Belmont right in that mix, Lidstone said.
The Lower Island playoffs happen Feb. 12 to 14, with the Islands set for Feb. 19 to 21 in Port Alberni. The top four teams from the south automatically qualify, with No. 5 able to challenge No. 4 in the north for the final berth.
The Bulldogs (1-3) beat a physical Stelly’s by four points last week, led by a 30-point effort from Isla Swanwick. Belmont closes out its short regular season with the Reynolds game and their final home game at Spotswood gym, Jan. 27 against Mount Douglas.
The Bulldogs finished fourth at the Totem 60 tournament in Port Alberni earlier this month, dropping their first game to eventual champion Mark Isfeld of Courtenay, then beating Pacific Christian School Pacers and Sooke’s Edward Milne.
Swanwick and Claire Church led the team in scoring at the tournament, while Cassy Allen was a force inside as top rebounder. Guard Madison Bullen led the team in assists on the weekend.
Swanwick was later named to the tournament all-star team, the lone player from a non-finalist team to achieve the honour.
“She and the other two captains (Hannah Allen and Frelen Gorst) have really stepped up and are leading on and off the court,” Lidstone said of his Grade 12s.
Grade 11s Bullen and post Jess Thomsen have come a long way with their play, he added. Others chipping in with solid efforts of late are Savonah MacLeod-Vesillin up front, Alysha Walton in the back court and Nicole Weldam-Dickson, Claire Joyce, Miranda Llewellyn, Leslie Cotter and Rachel Fehler on the wings.
Belmont opens the Spotswood tourney with a 1 p.m. Friday game against Semiahmoo from Vancouver, then play Kwalikum from Qualicum Beach at 6:15. Saturday games start at 9:45 a.m., with the Bulldogs slotted in for a 1:15 p.m. game against North Surrey and a 5:15 matchup with Mount Doug, which will serve as a preview of the teams’ league game next week.