Snowfall stymied a West Coast basketball tournament at USS over the weekend as two of the five teams slated to face-off couldn’t make it over Sutton Pass.
Slippery roads forced Highland Secondary and Brookes-Shawnigan to back out at the last minute leaving the USS, Gold River and Ahousaht squads with an altered round-robin schedule.
“We had everything lined up so we decided to still play ball,” said USS’ team manager Jason Sam.
Despite the decreased lineup, USS’ gym was packed with basketball action on Friday and Saturday capping off with Ahousaht’s Maaqtusiis squad besting USS in the de-facto final matchup.
USS had beaten Maaqtusiis during Friday’s play but the Ahousaht squad stepped up their game for Saturday’s finals bringing a 31–17 lead into the half and holding on for a 57-42 victory.
Maaqtusiis coach Travis Thomas saw a distinct difference between his team’s Friday and Saturday performances.
“They were frigid yesterday,” he told the Westerly News after Saturday’s win. “They were pretty cold and didn’t attack the boards like they did today. Today they rebounded well as a team and played defense well as a team.”
He said the USS squad brought his players a tough matchup and valuable experience
“They’re a great team,” he said of USS. “It was an excellent test for our guys.”
Travis has high hopes for his players this year and hopes to see their defense continue to hit the high level they displayed on Saturday.
“I think we’re going to have a good year,” he said. “If we get our defense working like we did today, we’re going to have a good season.”
Jason Sam was proud to see USS play well against an Ahousaht team that was firing on all cylinders.
“Maaqtusiis played extremely well,” he said. “Sometimes you just can’t beat teams when they’re on their A-Game no matter what you do. Our boys played well but their boys brought everything they had and played an awesome game.”
Sam said he is working on scheduling a make-up tournament in January so the two teams that missed out this time around can still score a Ucluetian experience.
He added playing in front of a home crowd brings added excitement to USS’ players.
“These kids got to play in front of their grandparents, parents, nieces and nephews; the littlest kids to the oldest elders were there,” he said.
“It was great to see the community come out in support…It’s exciting for the boys. It’s good to travel because it gets the kids some experience and some kids don’t get out as much and we get to go do some fun things while we’re out. But, it’s great to host.”
He said USS basketball is looking strong this year with a trip to Provincials a possibility.
“The boys had a very, very big learning curve last year. We went through a complete rebuild year,” he said.“We’re looking good for this year…We’re hoping to go to Provincials. That’s our goal. We have our sights set on it. We’re ready to win.”
USS is set to host the North Island Tournament in February where the top three teams will go on to the Island Championships. The top two teams from the Islands will be invited to the provincials in March.