They didn’t make it to the Big Show, and had to watch it — if they could stomach it, from a distance.
While the Terry Fox Ravens failed to qualify for last week’s senior boys provincial basketball championship tournament, the program is a major contender for next year, at least according to a AAAA poll of high school coaches in the Province.
The newspaper poll projected Fox second for 2014-15, right behind the recently-crowned Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs.
All fine and dandy, notes one Fox coach; but being ranked in a pre-preseason poll is no more than some sketchy crystal ball-gazing, says Brad Petersen.
“It’s nice to see but quite frankly it holds little weight with reality and what may happen,” said Petersen, who along with Steve Hanson has piloted the senior program the past four years.
“We’ve got lots of work to do in the offseason, lots of work in the preseason before we even get to one game.”
Despite finishing first in North league play with a 6-1 record, Fox was ousted 75-68 by district rival Heritage Woods in a must-win Valley playoff battle. They spent much of the season bobbing up and down the provincial top-10 rankings.
However, rival coaches likely based their prediction not just on the number of eligible returnees — 10 Grade 11s — but on the quality of those expected back in black, red and white.
“We agree that it’s going to be an exciting year because of the potential players returning,” said Petersen. “We’ve got a lot of dedicated kids, a good batch of Grade 11s and a good group of Grade 10s [from the junior roster] coming up.”
Led by six-foot-four power forward Mike West and guards Liam Hancock, Jomari Reyes and Andy Seo, the Port Coquitlam squad has a healthy athletic core that will be driven to avoid a repeat of this year’s setback, said Petersen.
“Things just kind of broke down in the stretch,” he said of the playoffs, which also saw them fall to eventual Valley champ Tamanawis 77-49. “We turned the ball over too much and offensively we just didn’t hit those shots when it counted.”
The high poll rating is based on all the potential the roster holds, said Howard Tsumura.
“The big numbers they return at the guard spots along with the force that Mike West is becoming are huge for this team,” said Tsumura, the Province’s long-time high school sports reporter and compiler of the poll. “Add their previous senior varsity experience at the tourney as Grade 10s and the sting of missing out this season, and you have a team on a mission.”
As nice a nod as it is, Petersen and Hanson would gladly trade all the high rankings and accolades for an earned ticket to the big tournament and a chance to repeat that amazing feeling in 2012, when they emerged as provincial champions.
“When you miss out on the [provincials] it’s just so very disappointing,” noted Petersen. “I didn’t even know if I wanted to watch basketball that week, but I’m kind of glad I did. There were a lot of great games, seeing so many kids excel on the big stage. We just wish we had been there too.”
Listed as an honourable mention in the poll was Heritage Woods, while Dr. Charles Best is slotted eighth in the AAA poll.
© 2015 Tri-Cities Now