Some of the best basketball players from Western Canada come to Oak Bay High this week as the school hosts the ninth annual Gary Taylor Basketball Tournament Dec. 15 to 17.
Offering even more reason to celebrate, the school dedicates its training gym to a longtime coach during Friday’s feature game.
“This year we are honouring Don Horwood, a past Bays coach, by dedicating our training gym in his name,” said Olivia Heinz, tournament co-director. “Don coached Oak Bay’s basketball team from 1969 to 1978, leading them to win three provincial titles. We look forward to celebrating this event with the entire community.”
“He really shaped our basketball to what it is today,” Heinz said. “He’s someone our school looks up to.”
The festivities happen during half-time of Friday’s feature game, around 6 p.m., Heinz said.
In addition to a few words from Oak Bay High principal Dave Thomson and others, guests will enjoy entertainment from the school’s dance and hip hop groups and the jazz band.
Heinz and the other organizers hope to fill the bleachers with local basketball fans, alumni and others to cheer on the teams.
“It’s really good basketball; that’s why it has become so big,” she said.
One of Oak Bay’s players heating up the hardwood will be guard Jaden Touchie, who just signed to the University of Victoria Vikes for the 2017-18 season. A B.C. provincial team member for several years and a second team All-Canadian at the 2014 U-15 National Championship, Touchie has helped lead B.C. to sixth and third-place Canadian finishes.
Leading up to the big night will be a spirit week at the school. “Throughout we will be selling Oak Bay swag so we are all prepared for the Gary Taylor,” Heinz said. Oak Bay High’s art students have also created individual banners for each school in the tournament.
Adding to the excitement is the tournament’s growing reputation, with teams coming from the Lower Mainland and Alberta in addition to the Island.
“It’s becoming a lot bigger and widespread,” she said.
Oak Bay opens play Thursday with a 1:15 p.m. tip-off against Nanaimo’s Wellington, with Cowichan and St. Michaels University School playing at 3 p.m. Lambrick takes on Calgary’s Sir Winston Churchill in Game 3 at 4:45 p.m. with Belmont and Vancouver College facing off at 6:30 p.m. Games continue Friday and Saturday, with the championship final Saturday, Dec. 17 at 6 p.m.