Build. Build. Build.
It’s been the mantra of the Edward Mile Community School senior boys basketball program for the last few years as it strives to become a provincial powerhouse.
The next step in the process begins this weekend when the Wolverines head to Pacific Christian Secondary School for the first tournament of the season.
And new head coach Alex Wright sees potential in this year’s squad.
“There’s a decent amount of talent here,” he said. “I think it will be a solid year for us to make a playoff push.”
The Wolverines have five returning players from last year’s club led by 6’6” centre Alec McKenzie, along with Ryan Fuhr, Nick Gakkena, Bailey McMillan and Tyler Scheuble.
A pleasant surprise for Wright has been the addition of three international students. Nacho Antonutti, Minshu (Zero) Yang, and Chasel Shi.
“It’s a lucky break. We’re really glad we have them with us and can add them to the team,” Wright said.
But it will take work to both qualify and do well in the playoffs,
So far, Wright said, the team has gelled well with the returning players welcoming their new teammates to the fold. “They know each other and they’re all supportive. It’s a really positive group,” he said.
In exhibition games, the Wolverines look strong on defence – with all 13 players willing to play hard, physical and not willing to give up the ball easier.
On offence, EMCS might have some work to do, but look stronger than last year with the top nine players expecting to make a strong impact on the score box, not something that EMCS has been used to in the past, Wright said.
Still, there’s work to do.
The Wolverines have players coming into the program that haven’t played much basketball until they hit Grade 9 or later. The issue is better than it was two or three years ago. (Last year’s Wolverine coach Trevor Bligh gave up the top job to concentrate on the players at the lower levels in an attempt to build the senior program.)
“It’s a work in progress, but we’re growing together,” Wright said.
The EMCS Wolverines play their first home game on Dec. 13 against Spectrum Secondary School. Game time is 7:30 p.m.