As playoffs approach for the Oak Bay senior boys basketball team, the Bays, ranked fourth in B.C., hope to secure yet another Island Championship title.
Last year’s Island champions are looking for back-to-back wins, bringing the Island trophy back home to Oak Bay for the 21st time.
This year, the playoffs will be a little different than in previous years.
“There are no South Island Championships this year because there’s only four teams (in the 4A league),” said Oak Bay coach Chris Franklin. “There’s just the Island Championships.”
The Island Championships will be played Feb. 25 to 27 at Dover Bay in Nanaimo.
The Bays will prepare for their playoff run by flying to Regina, Sask. for the Luther Invitational Tournament this week where they’ll face some top-notch competition, including Alberta’s fourth-ranked team, the Cardston High School Cougars, and Winnipeg’s undefeated John Taylor Collegiate.
In the annual Gary Taylor Classic earlier this year at Oak Bay, the Bays handily beat Cowichan in their semi-final match-up to advance, and ultimately win, their own championship on their home floor.
That does not mean Oak Bay is taking anything for granted.
“(Cowichan has) really been wrestling it out there (in North Island league play). It looks like (they) will come in first…and we’re playing Islands at Dover (Bay) which will make Dover that much stronger,” Franklin said.
Given that there are only three teams in the North Island 4A league, Cowichan Secondary School, Dover Bay and G.P. Vanier appear poised to be the three teams representing the North Island.
“I think the competition is good. (It) gives us a lot of experience building up to provincials,” said senior starting forward Madhu McConnell.
The top three teams from both north and south square off in the six-team Island championships.
The Bays, the only undefeated team in 4A South Island league play, look to be the favourites to secure the top berth to represent the South Island for the Islands. The other two seeds are up for grabs between three teams, Belmont, Claremont and Spectrum.