The Ladysmith 49’ers senior boys AA basketball team’s journey to reach the provincial championships is one step closer this week, after placing first at the North Island playoffs in Nanaimo Feb. 16-18.
The 49’ers went undefeated in all three games played against Cedar (80-72), Wellington (56-52) and Mark Isfeld (57-48).
“They did their job in this tournament. It was good to finish No. 1 in the North Island,” said coach Randy Steel. “It’s still going to be tough, but they had a good weekend.
“The plan was to get as high as we can, but there was still some close games.”
Perhaps the most exciting game of the tournament came Friday afternoon during the team’s match against Wellington.
The game was pretty evenly matched until Wellington took a five-point lead in the fourth quarter.
However, a few late- game baskets tied up the score, and with two minutes left in the game, the 49’ers popped in a penalty shot rebound to break the tie.
“It was a good game,” Steele said. “We were just trying to press them a bit at the end there to try and change the game.”
Tanner Gresmak, Ronal Finnegan and Deavon Geary scored high points during the tournament.
The Island playoffs, which take place Thursday (Feb. 23) at St. Michael’s School in Victoria, will feature the top four teams from the North Island and the top four teams from the south.
As top of the North Island ladder, the 49’ers will first take on the fourth-place team in the South Island division, giving them a better position in the tournament.
Joining them in the North Island division will be Wellington Secondary, Mark Isfeld (Courtenay) and Highland Secondary (Comox Valley) schools.
To make provincials, the 49’ers must place in the top three in the Island playoffs.
“We’ll be tested this weekend coming up,” Steele said. “They don’t really hold anything back because they know each game could be their last.
“They’re playing well as a team, staying together, and our defense is getting a little better.”