Hyacks target Gair Classic to set happy holiday mood

This week’s busy schedule isn’t just about shopping, wrapping and checking that list thrice.

For the New Westminster Hyacks, the roll-out of the Bob Gair Classic, which tipped off yesterday (Wednesday) was all about getting more exposure to opposing strategies and working the kinks out of their own game.

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“We’d like to win it, of course,” remarked Hyacks senior boys basketball coach Ted Cusick. “The more games you win at home the more fans you attract, and more wins build confidence.”

They opened the tourney with a resounding 101-60 victory over league rival Alpha, getting 20 points apiece from Kirk Bothwell and Luke Burton, with the latter adding nine rebounds. Counting 17 points was AJ Chol, while Brady Traverse chipped in 10 points. Proving to be a power on the boards was Grade 11 forward Ethan Rivas, with 14 rebounds along with eight points.

It’s also another link in the team-building exercise. New West, which owns a 7-1 record, began its Burnaby-New West league schedule on Monday with a 102-86 victory over Cariboo Hill.

Although the only ranked team at this week’s Gair event – which wraps up Friday with a 2 p.m. final in the Pearson gym – is 3-A A.R. McNeill at No. 10, it provides a quick series of games within three days.

“It’s a good experience, and you hope to build on each (game),” said the coach.

Last week, the Hyacks suffered their first loss of the year, 90-72 to No. 7-ranked Tamanawis in Surrey.

Although they trailed from the early start, it was a case of some sharpshooting that separated the two teams.

“(Tamanawis) just shot the lights out, making 19 (three pointers),” said the coach. “We started in a zone (defence) but switched to man-to-man when they started hitting all those long shots.”

Rivas led New West shooters with 16 points, while Burton chipped in with 10 points and seven rebounds.

Against Cariboo Hill, the locals saw four players hit double digits,
including Burton’s game-high 25 points. Bothwell netted 19 points and nine rebounds, Kevin Guillermo counted 13 points, and Rivas chipped in with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Coming off the bench and contributing seven points and 14 boards was Gavin Bhullar.

The Gair Classic, which also features a junior girls tourney in the Massey gym, runs until Friday.

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