The Edward Milne community school Wolverines are asking: Could this be the year the senior boys’ basketball team makes a return to the Island finals?
“I’ve never had a team this deep,” said coach Trevor Bligh.
The Wolverines are coming off a tough season and failed to qualify for the Island Finals the last several years.
The team opens its 2018-2019 season on Dec. 4 against Royal Bay secondary, followed a week later against Vic High.
Bligh doesn’t talk about making the Island Finals, he talks about winning games – and with a young club.
It’s a turnover year for most of the Triple A clubs on the Island, with many coaching changes and teams stacked with Grade 11 players.
The Wolverines have only one returning Grade 12 student and the rest are in Grade 11.
“It’s part of the reason, why, I believe we can compete,” Bligh said. “These kids are very skilled. They can handle the ball, they can shoot, they can play defence.”
There’s another factor that’s been a few years in the making.
Two years ago, Bligh stepped down as coach of the Wolverines in a plan that would see him develop players at Journey Middle School and follow those students through to junior high basketball. (Alex Wright stepped down as the Wolverines’ coach this year to take on the junior development program)
The Journey team dominated its league over the last three years, losing only one game.
To further develop the local talent, Bligh also entered an under-11 team to compete in the Victoria City Night League – the first time Sooke has been represented in 21 years.
Grabbing young athletes and teaching them basic basketball skills are necessary to build a winning team at the senior boys’ level, Bligh said.
“Sooke is playing catch up,” he said. “We need to be doing all this to stay competitive.”
There are 13 Triple A club on the Island this year and only three make it to the provincial finals.
Bligh will guide his cohorts through the regular season and five weekend tournaments between December and mid-February, with an eye to go far in the playoffs.
“This is a really strong group of kids,” he said.
“It’s not like a 12-man roster where we’re eight deep. We’re an 11-man roster and everyone plays.”