Hoop race begins anew for Hyacks

If the first week is any sign, the New Westminster Hyacks are going to be chart climbers.

The 2018-19 senior boys basketball team did a successful sweep of the competition at last week’s Enver Creek tournament, topping the hosts 95-67 in the final.

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Following that up, they rode the hot hand of centre Ethan Rivas and put together a nice rally to edge the Killarney Cougars 81-75 in New West’s home opener on Monday.

All in all, a solid week of work for the squad under head coach Ted Cusick.

“The kids played well,” said Cusick, who returns behind the senior boys’ bench after a two-year’s tour helping out with the juniors. “(Killarney) was quick but we were bigger, and (Rivas) was on.”

Rivas enjoyed a standout game with 39 points and 21 rebounds to pace the Hyacks. The six-foot-six post player, a transfer student from Surrey, provided much of the offensive spark on the night.

“He did all I asked of him,” noted Cusick. “He’s got good size and I want him to be a post. So he got in there and did a real good job on the boards.”

Trailing by four with a handful of minutes to play, New West capitalized on a couple of turnovers to turn the tables on the visiting Cougars.

Kirk Bothwell, a Grade 11 who at Six-foot-six is also part of the Hyacks size advantage, chipped in 12 points and 14 boards.

"It was coming down to the wire and we trailed by four," said Cusick of the game's final five minutes. "We got a couple of key turnovers and away we went. But I was sweating."

Against Enver Creek, Luke Burton and Rivas both tallied 26 points each.

It was part of a tournament where New West dropped Princess Margarett 82-35 in the opener, led by Rivas’ 20 points and Luke Burton’s 13.

They followed that with an 87-63 win over R.E. Mountain, where Mo Al-Ghreibawi and Rivas put up 15-point efforts. The test saw the Hyacks utilize its full bench, with 11 players putting up points.

Although they suffered their first two losses of the season on Wednesday, it was a roster without the top-five starters as Cusick elected to enter the Cariboo Hill tournament with a ‘B’ team.

With a 14-player roster, the long-time local coach said that it is less about resting some banged up starters than in giving role players and guys who typically sit on the bench a chance to carry the ball.

“Generally, I like to carry 12 players but we had three kids who were fighting for the last spot, and each of them is the nicest and hardest working (kid) you could have. I couldn’t cut them.”

Alpha eked out a 75-61 decision in the first contest of the day, while No. 7-ranked Vancouver College took a 99-83 win in the nightcap.

The Hyacks’ next home game is Dec. 11 against Centennial.

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