It’s almost here. The first real, complete basketball season in two years tips off in two weeks.
There will be conference showdowns and weekend tournaments. The crowds will be back. Masks are still required, but that’s a small price to pay to get high school senior boys basketball back.
For the Edward Milne Community School Wolverines, the return of competitive ball games is a welcome relief.
“The players are tired of practice and they’re so ready for competition,” said coach Trevor Bligh.
Unlike many high school programs, the Wolverines continued to practice through the pandemic – even when there were no scheduled games. Those practices were like no other: players donned masks, were forced to keep a safe distance from each other and took part in new drills aimed at keeping in line with provincial health regulations.
“Anything we could to keep it competitive we did,” Bligh said.
The Wolverines are looking to improve on a 2-4 record from its 2020 season. And, like all teams in their division, they’ll start the re-build from scratch.
EMCS has only one returning player in Jordan Quinney, who was in Grade 10 in 2020 and called up for the playoffs from the junior team. He’ll have a lot of firepower behind him with the addition of guards Austin Warren and Keirran Demelo and six-foot-six centre Jesse Satucime.
The Wolverines open their season on Dec. 7 against Parkland Panthers and play only one contest in their six-game season before the Christmas break.
Bligh said his club will play about 27 games split between the regular season, playoffs and tournaments.
The biggest competition this year for the Wolverines is the Esquimalt High Dockers that won the division in 2020.
“I think we’ve got a really good chance to win our division. We’d like to get back to Island playoffs,” Bligh said
If the Wolverines see success this year, they can credit a basketball system created by Bligh and assistant coach Alex Wright that begins at the elementary school level and follows student-athletes to the senior boys’ ranks. The program started five years ago and the first of those players are now playing for the Wolverines.
BASELINES … EMCS will have a junior boys and girls team this year … the last game of the season for the senior boys’ Wolverines is Feb. 8 versus St. Michaels University School.