UVic Vikes rookie Diego Maffia has been nominated for his second straight Sport B.C. High School Male Athlete of the Year Award. (Armando Tura/UVic Vikes)

Oak Bay hoop star shortlisted for second-straight B.C. high school player of the year award

Rookie Diego Maffia and Vikes host Canada West playoff Friday at UVic

For the second straight year, Oak Bay’s Diego Maffia has been shortlisted for the Sport B.C. Male High School Athlete of the Year.

Maffia won the Male High School Athlete of the Year award in 2019, based on his Grade 11 season. He can now make it back-to-back wins as he is nominated for his superb 2018-19 high school season playing basketball, volleyball and soccer for Oak Bay High.

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This year’s banquet is March 12 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Maffia is shortlisted with outstanding football players Uyi Ologhola of Holy Cross and Demetri Patterson of Rockridge.

“I don’t know [Patterson] but I actually remember playing basketball against Uyi in the junior provincials,” Maffia recalled.

Highlights from Maffia’s Grade 12 year include his 96-point game in Kelowna against the Ross Shephard Thunderbirds. He also scored 53 points to help Oak Bay beat Belmont in the South Island AAAA championship final, and led the team to its fifth straight AAAA Island championship (24th in team history). The Bays finished seventh at provincials.

“It feels great to be nominated, to be noticed for your work and to be one of only three names,” Maffia said. “One thing about the ceremony is it’s formal, so it feels like a different atmosphere for me. I’m not used to dressing up.”

This year Maffia has transitioned well to the UVic Vikes, which start the Canada West playoffs at home this weekend.

Last weekend the point guard led the Vikes attack with 20 points, 11 rebounds and three assists as the Vikes beat the Trinity Western Spartans 91-82. The Vikes men and women enter the playoffs this Friday, as the women host the Regina Cougars at 6 p.m. followed by the men facing the Brandon Bobcats at 8 p.m. in UVic’s CARSA gym.

If either Vikes team wins on Friday they advance to the Canada West conference quarterfinals.

“It’s been a great transition to a hard style of play that is different, it has been a big jump physically,” Maffia said. “It’s also new playing back-to-back games, and some other things you don’t account for.”

When he has time away from the Vikes and his UVic studies, Maffia can also be seen helping at Bays practice and sitting on the Bays bench during games. In the meantime, he is focused on advancing through the U Sports season. But when the time comes, he’ll be ready to make the commute to Vancouver for the Sport B.C. annual banquet.

“You don’t find out if you win until the moment of the event, it’s a total surprise so it’s pretty nerve-wracking,” Maffia said. “You commute all the way there not knowing, though it’s just humbling to be among great athletes at a great ceremony.”

Shortlisted high school female athletes are volleyball player Madelyn Hettinga of Kelowna secondary, basketball star Deja Lee of Semiahmoo and track athlete Jasneet Nijjar of Queen Elizabeth secondary.

One other athlete nominated from Greater Victoria is Nathan Riech, a 24-year-old middle-distance runner who trains out of the Athletics Canada hub at Pacific Institute of Sports Excellence. Last year Riech won the gold medal in the men’s T38 1500-m at both the IPC World Championships and the Parapan American Games in meet record time.

reporter@oakbaynews.com


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