As the senior boys high school basketball season began last night at Edward Milne Community School, there was the usual air of optimism.
Overlooked, though, was how this is already a season of firsts.
The most noticeable difference is at coaching.
Long-time coach Trevor Bligh, who has led the Wolverines since 1995, will share bench duties with EMCS alumni Alex Wright. Wright was successful with the junior program and last year assisted Bligh on the sidelines.
On the court, the Wolverines will be led by the returning Brady Greenwood, a six-foot-five forward, and six-foot point guard Frederik Moeller.
Moeller is the first exchange student to lead the starting five.
This year’s squad will have 14 players, including an impressive lineup of Grade 11 students. Leading the squad is graduates from last year’s junior program including six-foot-six Alec McKenzie and six-foot-four Andy Abel.
“I like the size and athletic ability of the team. We’re larger than most our competitors,” Bligh said.
Due to a re-organization, the Wolverines will drop down to double A from triple A this season. The move may be a benefit to the Sooke club.
Last season the Wolverines made to the Island semifinals and lost with one second remaining in the game. “It still gives me nightmares,” laughed Bligh.
This year, the Wolverines are ranked sixth on the Island. The top three teams from the Island advance to the provincial championship.
“Over the last few seasons we were playing above our tier, now we’re the biggest school in double A. So, it should benefit us,” Bligh said.
The team’s goal this year is to win the Island and qualify for the B.C. championships. It will be tough, though, as Sooke needs to get past top-ranked Sidney’s Lambrick Park and St. Michael’s University in Victoria.
“It’s an achievable goal,” Bligh said, adding no Sooke high school basketball team has ever qualified.
“It’s going to be a bright season – it’s very exciting and very promising,” he said.
A season of firsts just waiting to happen.