Still bogged down by on-court inconsistencies, the New Westminster Hyacks are running out of time when it comes to putting the pieces together.
After another patchy weekend of results, the onus now is on the players to apply what they know and make a serious run for the playoffs.
“I expect more to come from these kids, because they’ve got the skills,” said head coach Ted Cusick, a veteran of nearly 50 years of coaching high school hoops. “I’ve seen them work in practice, and I know they care. But I don’t think they realize that for most of them, their high school playing career could be over in a few weeks if we don’t get going.”
The latest example of the team’s uneven play came at the Victoria Police Tournament on the weekend, where they went 1-2, dropping a couple of games the coach believed they could have won.
The tourney started well enough with a 66-49 victory over St. Michaels – even though Cusick said the effort could have been better. Quentin Leberg carted a team-high 19 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, while captain Kirk Bothwell also registered a double-double, with 10 points and 11 boards. Luke Dixon tallied 11 points and seven rebounds, while Caleb Johnson netted 10 points and four assists.
“We just played OK basketball and we’ve played better. There just was no real spark, and it was a problem in the other games, too,” Cusick said. “We go through the motions.”
In their second game, the Hyacks held a good lead but were unable to lock it down and fell 64-57 to 2-A's No. 8-ranked team, Brentwood College.
The Island team chipped away at New West’s lead, and once it slipped through their fingers the squad couldn’t reclaim it. Putting up 25 points and 10 boards, while sinking three of seven three-point shots, was Bothwell. Johnson added 12 points, while Leberg was good for nine points and nine rebounds.
On the final day, they were sent home with a 94-73 loss to No. 4-rated Lambrick Park, as Bothwell, with 15, and Johnson, with 14, topped all shooters. Contributing 12 points were Udhay Mangat and Leberg, while Russell Moir came off the bench and tallied eight points.
The Hyacks, which headed to Victoria minus two starters, was recognized by the tournament committee when selected Most Sportsmanlike.
“It’s a consolation prize, but it is something I really push. I want my teams to be the ones that help another player up when they fall down, that don’t talk back or argue with the officials – that’s my job – and don't get involved in any rough stuff.”
New West owns a disappointing 2-6 record in 2020, although they did win the most important game – a 95-69 league match-up with Moscrop 10 days ago. Their 2-1 league record puts them in a tie for second with Burnaby North and Byrne Creek, but with a handful of games yet to be played.
They won’t get another league test until next week, but they will have one more kick at the exhibition can as the host 2-A’s No. 1 team, the Prince Rupert-based Charles Hays Rainmakers on Wednesday (7 p.m.) in the Pearson gym. They’ll then proceed to south Vancouver to play in the Eric Hamber Midtown Showdown, squaring off against Point Grey for the second time in two weeks.
Looking at the bright side, Cusick feels the team will put it together before league play ramps up next week, when they have three crucial games in preparation for next month's league playoffs and a possible route to the 4-A provincials.
“They all try hard, but when it comes to that extra effort, sometimes it’s just not there,” he added. “I’m hoping we’ve turned a corner.”