PORT COQUITLAM - One spectacular breakthrough deserves another.
The Archbishop Carney Stars made school history last year, advancing to their first AA senior boys basketball championship tournament, where they posted a sturdy sixth-place result.
What to do for an encore is obvious.
Ranked 10th in the latest B.C. poll, Carney has its sights set on packaging last year's experience into an even further push up the provincial ladder.
The Stars launched a new season with a torrent of games, including an eight-day trip to southern California.
Their most recent action saw the Port Coquitlam crew kick off the G.W. Graham tournament Thursday with a polished 82-70 victory over unranked Delview.
Alex Baumann, a six-foot-one Grade 11 guard, set the tone with 24 points, while six-foot-seven post Patrick Simon cashed in 15. It lined them up with a likely date Friday against No. 2-ranked Holy Cross.
"The confidence level has been increasing," noted Carney coach Steve McGinley. "We had a tough couple of games at the [Telus] Classic but we came out of it fine."
At the major season-starting tourney, the Stars drew AAA top-five White Rock Christian and were trumped 86-49. In their second test they put up a valiant fight against another AAA Fraser Valley power, Pitt Meadows, before bowing out 52-41.
In the latter match, the small AA squad were tied with Pitt at halftime, but couldn't keep up that pace in the second half.
The lessons served up at this time of year are plentiful, and McGinley is willing to accept the hard knocks now if they'll translate into a winning theme down the line.
"At [Telus] they learned the need to play a full intense game from the opening minute.
"We're close, but we just have to learn to take care of the small things."
It'll be no small thing if Carney can earn a second straight berth to the AA provincials, which are slated for March in Kamloops. The program has retained 10 players from last year's roster, each beginning a new season with that experience as a guide.
Simon is considered one of the best tall players in B.C., while he has a host of talented teammates to work with.
Seniors Jonathan Conlon, Josh Hombrebueno and Jon Juvik lead a fairly deep lineup that also includes Gr. 10 guard Tim Wei.
"Our guards can be a threat as a whole, with an inside, outside game," said McGinley. "People will focus on Simon and he can carry a big load, but he'll also draw a lot of the heat and create space for our other players."
In California, the squad enjoyed a bonding experience while posting a 1-4 record.
They also opened league action by hammering Garibaldi 93-22.
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