Ucluelet Secondary basketball teams win big in Gold River

Tournament MVP James Ortiz-Castro, right, and best defensive player Anthony Robinson, left, from USS Warriors, celebrate victory at a tournament in Gold River. (Ornella Cirella photo)Tournament MVP James Ortiz-Castro, right, and best defensive player Anthony Robinson, left, from USS Warriors, celebrate victory at a tournament in Gold River. (Ornella Cirella photo)
Best girls defensive player Kerissa Curley, Grade 9, rejoices after receiving the honour.Best girls defensive player Kerissa Curley, Grade 9, rejoices after receiving the honour.
Ucluelet Secondary School Senior Boys Warriors celebrate their first place at Gold River’s Welcome Back Tournament on Jan. 12 to 14. (Nicole Gerbrandt photo)Ucluelet Secondary School Senior Boys Warriors celebrate their first place at Gold River’s Welcome Back Tournament on Jan. 12 to 14. (Nicole Gerbrandt photo)
Ucluelet Secondary School Senior Girls Warriors are glowing after taking the win at Gold River’s Welcome Back Tournament on Jan. 12 to 14. (Jennifer Rhodes photo)Ucluelet Secondary School Senior Girls Warriors are glowing after taking the win at Gold River’s Welcome Back Tournament on Jan. 12 to 14. (Jennifer Rhodes photo)
The Ucluelet Secondary School Warriors basketball crew are pumped after winning the Gold River Welcome Back Tournament over the weekend. (Jen Rhodes photo)The Ucluelet Secondary School Warriors basketball crew are pumped after winning the Gold River Welcome Back Tournament over the weekend. (Jen Rhodes photo)

The Ucluelet Secondary School Warriors made a victorious return to the basketball court this weekend at Gold River’s Welcome Back Tournament.

Both the Senior Girls and the Senior Boys squads handily took home wins from participating teams Gold River, Port Hardy, Port McNeill, and Zeballos.

“It was a blowout,” said girls coach Ornella Cirella, who travelled the six or so hours to Gold River with coach Emily Collins and a team of nine players.

“We’re both really proud of them. They really played hard. Even when Zeballos injured some of our players, you know an elbow in the face, they came off on the bench took a few minutes and got back out there. They played hard and had lots of perseverance,” Cirella said.

Boys coach Alistair Reynolds brought a full roster of 12 players to the Gold River tournament.

He says the Warriors dominated the other boys’ teams by a significant margin.

“We had a 40-point win against Port Hardy and another 40-point win over Gold River in the final,” Reynolds said.

“I’m really proud of how they played and how they conducted themselves. They showed great sportsmanship towards the other teams.”

Tournament MVP for the girls went to Olivia Rhodes, Grade 11.

“She’s really an all-around amazing athlete. She’s really fast. The team would steal the ball and feed it to her. She would get down the court before anyone else and do lay up after lay up,” said Cirella.

Best girls’ defensive player went to Kerissa Curley, Grade 9.

“We have many young players on our team. It’s a junior team playing in a senior tournament.”

On the boys’ side, tournament MVP went to James Ortiz-Castro, Grade 12.

“He plays a selfless game, but he’s also a really skilled one-on-one player. Defensively he’s really skilled too. His leadership comes from his amazing play,” Reynolds said.

Best boys’ defensive player went to Anthony Robinson.

This weekend was the first time the USS Warriors have played other teams since the pandemic closures. Both coaches thanked all the parents and volunteers for putting the time in on the road to cheer on the teams.

“It was so uplifting and heartwarming to see so many families there. It really seemed like we were the home team,” Reynolds said. He thanked principal Drew Ryan for supporting the basketball program and his coaching staff Chris Sylvester, Colin Maxwell and Jason Sam.

Cirella told the Westerly that this Gold River trip might have been the most fun experience the kids have ever had on the road.

“They stayed overnight in the school. They were in the gym shooting hoops until 2 a.m. on the first night,” she said.

While the Warriors may have bested the field at the Gold River tournament, it won’t count toward their official Island ranking.

“We weren’t able to get credited referees so the games don’t count officially,” said Reynolds. “The biggest way people can get involved is to pick up a whistle and start reffing.”

Up next on the USS Warriors basketball game schedule are games in Nanaimo. The Senior Girls A Island Championships take place on Feb. 13 and 14 (location to be determined) and the Senior Boys A is Feb. 23–25 in Nanaimo.



nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca

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