Captain Tegan Michel with Zuva Turner-Tan and Julia Preston, three of the four returning players who are at the core of the Oak Bay senior girls basketball team this year. The team opens the South Island high school season on Tuesday, three days after Turner-Tan sunk nine three-pointers in a pre-season tournament match. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Retooled Oak Bay hoops team starts strong

‘Not the tallest,’ but Oak Bay are off to big start

With a new head coach, a new captain and a new core, the Oak Bay High senior girls basketball team is settled and ready for this week’s start to league play in the South Island high school basketball season.

Back in a head coaching role for the first time since he retired in 2014 is former Mount Douglas senior girls coach Rick Griffin. It’s a long story, but the school counsellor returned to part-time work a couple of years ago. And when you have someone with 35 years teaching experience and much of that spent coaching on the court, athletic directors like Richie Fast will notice (and he did).

READ MORE: Retirement comes early for Mount Doug coach ‘Griff’

It’s been a great start, as the team won all four games in its bracket of the annual Christmas Tournament this past weekend. They beat Samuel Robertson Tech (Maple Ridge) 79-53, North Delta 76-30, then edged the highly ranked Pitt Meadows Marauders 58-56 in the semifinal before taking down Eric Hamber 90-65.

Add that to the Nov. 29 tournament win, 62-60, over the defending AAA Island champions Nanaimo District Secondary School.

“Beating [Pitt Meadows and Nanaimo] by two points is huge for us,” said newly named captain Tegan Michel. “It gives us the confidence that we can compete against the better teams.”

The Grade 12 forward moved from point guard to the wing this year to accommodate a lack of overall height on the team.

“We’re not the tallest,” Michel said. “In the past, we’ve had [Oak Bay teams averaging] over six-feet. We have to be organized defensively so teams can’t lob balls over us. Overall we will have to make up for it as a team.”

READ MORE: Oak Bay girls net senior volleyball Island championship

Grade 11 student Julia Preston will start at point guard with Spanish international Celina Lopez and Michel will move to forward to do whatever the team needs, including battling for rebounds.

One way to stymie the other team is the Zuva method.

On Saturday, Zuva Turner-Tan sunk nine three-pointers.

“That pumps the team up,” Michel said. “She’s good at that.”

This week the Bays will head to Ottawa for the second half of their Experiences Canada exchange with players from St. Mother Theresa. Throughout the Christmas Tournament, Oak Bay was cheered on by their visiting billets from St. Mother Theresa in Ottawa.

“They were really vocal,” Griffin said. “Really loud.”

The Bays will enjoy a break after next week until the season restarts on Jan. 7.

“Hopefully we’re playing in March [playoffs],” Michel said.

reporter@oakbaynews.com

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