In one sense, the climactic finish at the B.C. Boys AAA Basketball championship is an end. And on another level, it is the key to a new beginning.
The Terry Fox Ravens embraced both opportunities last week, closing out the 2012-13 season in 11th place.
Back-to-back losses to Enver Creek and Claremont may have cemented their placing in Langley, but co-coaches Brad Peterson and Steve Hanson see it as the launch of next year's charge, as well.
While they trailed Claremont 17-16 after one quarter, Fox were outscored 36-20 over the next two frames in a game that decided ninth spot.
Disappointed with the defeat, Peterson said a run of five games in five days definitely was a factor. Just not the deciding factor.
"Those five games in five nights is a challenge in itself, when you have to prepare on a daily basis to play the best of the province," said Peterson. "No one wants to lose, but if anything you take from it an experience for the returning players."
In his final high school game, forward Trevor Casey contributed 26 points, while Grade 10 guard Jomari Reyes tallied 13, including eight-for-eight from the free throw line.
"It was such a funny game against Claremont," said the co-coach. "There was no real flow and a lot of foul calls. There was just no rhythm, and it definitely wasn't one of our better efforts."
A day earlier, Fox was again in a tight game when their Surrey rival opened a 12-point advantage at the half. The PoCo crew stormed out in the third quarter to pull within two with a period to play. Enver would get a little breathing room in a 65-59 decision.
Reyes led the Ravens with 12 points, while Cam Nicol and Casey each tallied 11 points, and Gr. 10 forward Mike West chipped in 10.
They followed on the heels of Thursday's powerful showing where Fox outscored Belmont 24-10 in the second quarter en route to a 87-50 triumph - a fitting bounce-back performance after being sent to the consolation side after their 65-54 setback to Kitsilano on Wednesday.
"It was such a heartbreaking loss (to Kits) where if just a couple of things went our way, a couple of shots dropped in, it could have been a different story," reflected Peterson. "So it was nice to see the boys respond (against Belmont) with a good performance."
The Ravens got a 19-point performance from Casey, and 14 from West in the win.
For graduating seniors Adam Hoo, Damian Simon, Casey, Nicol and Rickaby, memories of last year's championship won't be erased by this season's cold close. Nor should it be.
"It was tough to see it end this way but in no way does it put a cloud on what they've done, this year and last," said Peterson. "There is so much they accomplished together as leaders in the Fox program."
For those returning, and the members of the junior program moving up, next season has a foundation and experience to build on. Among the 11 eligible to return, the four Gr. 10s will have major roles going forward.
"The returning players will come back having played in some real pressure-packed situations... They got crucial minutes against Kitsilano when we needed them most and for our four Grade 10s that was incredibly valuable.
"[West] was one of our most consistent players over the tournament. He's a guy who, with a year under his belt, will come back ready to make some noise.
Liam Hancock, Andy Seo and Reyes are the other three Gr. 10s.
The school will also make the adjustment to the planned AAAA league which will be unveiled next year.
"We're going to have a ton of experience and a lot of depth. While there are no guarantees, we are in a good situation for next season," added Peterson.