Friday April 18, 2014

High Schools: Fourth tier changes look of boys basketball

The B.C. High School Boys Basketball Association has a new look for 2013-14, and so does the Kamloops area.

Five of Kamloops’ seven high schools are looking at new schedules after the BCHSBBA added a AAAA tier to the what had been a three-tiered province. Most affected in this area are the schools that played AA last season — the Sa-Hali Sabres, Westsyde Whundas and Valleyview Vikings.

The Whundas and Vikings, who both appeared in the provincial preseason rankings, remain in AA, although it is a new West Zone. The two teams and the Merritt Panthers comprise the West Zone, one of three zones that make up the 12-team Okanagan AA Division.

The Sabres, meanwhile, have moved up into AAA alongside the NorKam Saints and South Kamloops Titans, both of whom played AAA last season. Also in the Okanagan AAA Division — there are no zones within the division — are the Kelowna-Okanagan Mission Huskies and the Vernon Panthers.

The schedule has become somewhat trickier, as each of Kamloops’ AAA and AA teams will play each other throughout the zone season, according to Whundas head coach Ryan Porter. The games between AA and AAA teams won’t count in the official standings.

Westsyde is scheduled to open its season Wednesday at Valleyview.

Porter said the new schedule shouldn’t affect the Whundas, who normally spend a lot of their season playing tournaments.

“We’re a tournament team, we normally go to six or seven tournaments a year before playoffs,” Porter said. “But as long as we get to play against the AAA teams around here, it should work out well for us.”

Schools are placed into their tiers based on enrolment numbers for boys in Grades 11 and 12. Sa-Hali moved up to AAA because it has between 185 and 283 boys in those grades, while Valleyview and Westsyde remain in AA with Grade 11-12 boys enrolment between 76-184.

Kamloops’ other two high school teams — the St. Ann’s Crusaders and Kamloops Christian School Eagles — remain in the Okanagan West A Zone.

Five teams comprise the Okanagan AAAA Division — the Kelowna Owls, West Kelowna-Mount Boucherie Bears, Penticton Lakers, Kelowna-Rutland Voodoos and Salmon Arm Golds.

The Whundas are hoping for a solid campaign with Joe Davis, a provincial team forward, now in his Grade 12 year.

Davis and Westsyde are ranked No. 6 early on, and have their eyes on the provincial AA championship, to be held in March in Langley (after more than a decade in Kamloops).

“We’ll be quite competitive,” Porter said, “as long as we can stay healthy.”

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