the Oak Bay High hardwood

New school gym to honour long-time coach Gary Taylor

The Gary Taylor-led Oak Bay basketball teams of the 1960s will be remembered at Friday night’s feature game.

Oak Bay celebrates the old and the new during this weekend’s Gary Taylor Classic boys basketball tournament.

Amid the excitement of Friday night’s feature game, tipping off at 7:30 p.m., athletes, teachers, families and students past and present will honour the gym’s namesake, longtime principal and coach Gary Taylor, says Drew Henderson, tournament director.

“There’s going to be a whole bunch of guys from the Gary Taylor era all showing up,” Henderson says. “He was a very popular guy and he dedicated a lot of his life to sport.”

Taylor built the basketball tradition at Oak Bay, with his teams winning Island championships in 1961, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1969, placing second at the provincial championships in 1966 and 1969 and winning provincial titles in 1965 and 1968. Taylor also coached successful swimming and track and field teams at Oak Bay.

After Oak Bay, Taylor went on to coach the University of Victoria Vikings men’s basketball team from 1970 to 1975, and he later became a popular principal at Lambrick Park Secondary.

A member of the Oak Bay High School Sports Hall of Fame, he was inducted into the BC Basketball Sports Hall of Fame in 2008 and into the Victoria Sports Hall of Fame in October of 2014.

The tournament opens Thursday, Dec. 17 and continues through Saturday, Dec. 19 in Oak Bay High’s new gym.

Both the junior and senior Oak Bay teams will play, amid teams from the Island, Mainland and Calgary. The tournament offers an opportunity for Oak Bay residents, alumni, parents and students to come see how their top-ranked teams stack up against some strong competition, Henderson says.

“The hope is that many people from the community take this chance to cheer on Oak Bay and have a look at the new school if they haven’t already.”

The junior division tips off Thursday at  is at 2:15 p.m. on the small court, when Lambrick Park takes on Cowichan. Belmont and Yale square off at 4 p.m., Claremont faces Vancouver College at 5:45 p.m. and the Oak Bay junior squad plays St. Michaels University School at 7:30 p.m.

On the senior side, playing on the Gary Taylor Court, Oak Bay hits the hardwood against Belmont at 1:15 p.m., Lambrick Park faces Cowichan at 3 p.m., SMUS takes on Vancouver College at 4:45 p.m. and NDS plays SWC at 7:30 p.m.

The AAAA Oak Bay senior team, which finished last season ranked No. 1 in B.C., entered pre-season ranked No. 8.

The team welcomes back two starters from last season, Jaden Touchie, a Grade 11 point guard, and Myka Tang Blumenschein, who played on Team BC U17.

Other huge contributions are expected from seniors Madhu McConnell, Aoi Yamaguchi and Matthew Griffin.

The Oak Bay senior squad is expected to hit the court again for the feature game Friday at 7:30 p.m.

The game promises to be a boisterous, fun-filled event as the home crowd cheers on their team, Henderson says.

A short ceremony will precede the event, hosted by Oak Bay principal Dave Thomson, and featuring some good old-fashioned fun, including the Oak Bay Dance Troupe performing at half-time, along with the Oak Bay High band to pump up the home crowd.

“Oak Bay has a very strong fine arts department so we just want to showcase that,” Henderson says. “We’re tying the old with the new…bringing the traditions of the old school to the new school.”

The final game goes at 4:30 p.m. Saturday for the juniors and 6 p.m. for the seniors. Both finals will be played on the Gary Taylor Court.

Spectators will be asked to pay by donation at the door, with all proceeds going to the Oak Bay basketball program to help subsidize player travel costs.