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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

December 8, 2015, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Oak Bay Bays follwed up a season opening 93-44 drubbing of the Spectrum Thunder last week with an equally decisive 104-48 win over the Claremont Spartans at Claremont High School on Tuesday night, jumping out to an impressive 2-0 start to begin their 2015-2016 Lower Island Senior Boys High School Basketball campaign.

Oak Bay’s Ben Watts-Wooldridge (left) looks to drive past Claremont’s Noah Jefferson. Watts-Woodridge would finish with a 9-point evening (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Bays are the top ranked AAAA team on the Island and 7th ranked in the province and are playing in what should be a very competitive Division 1 League that also includes the highly touted Lambrick Park Lions (the #1 ranked AA team on the Island and 2nd in the province) , the St. Michael’s University Blue Jags (#4 ranked in AA), Belmont (6th ranked in AAAA), Spectrum (7th ranked in AAAA) and the Spartans (5th ranked in AAAA).

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Claremont’s Zach Manns (11) was head and shoulders the best Spartan on the floor Tuesday, here going up and scoring two of his points in the second half (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

While it is expected that the Bays will be the cream of that crop, they will face stiff competition from the Lambrick park squad who are expected to be one of the top teams in the province at the AA level. After that, and based on the first two games to date, it could be easy sailing for the Bays in League play.

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Oak Bay’s Myka Tang-Blumenschein (8) denies this first half scoring chance by Claremont’s Zach Manns (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

It did take the Bays a little while to get rolling Tuesday as the Spartans, behind the solid leadership of point guard Zach Manns, hit some key shots early and held a 13-10 lead midway through the first quarter. However by the end of the frame, the Bays would recover and hold a 22-16 lead.

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Claremont’s Aiden Vickery (42) bids for a basket under pressure from the Bay’s Aoi Yamaguchi (10) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Bays would then show why they are the number one ranked team on the Island, exploding for 17 unanswered points to begin the second and then outscoring the Spartans 41-8 the rest of the quarter, thanks in big part eight three-pointers, to take a 63-24 lead into the break.

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The Bays welcomed Nick Mickelberry (right) back to their line-up and he was dominant under the glass, here about to swat away a scoring chance by the Spartan’s Idjen Cabral (4) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Putting it on cruise control after that and playing the full bench, Head Coach Chris Franklin and his team easily rolled through the third and fourth quarters without issue and completed the 104-48 win in fine fashion.

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Oak Bay’s Isaiah Romanow (left) and Claremont’s Idjen Cabral (right) battle for the ball (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

A big reason for the Bays success Tuesday was the return of players Madhu McConnell, Matt Griffin and Nick Mickelberry, who were busy winning a provincial championship with the Oak Bay volleyball team. “It was good to get those guys back and into a game,” said Franklin following his team’s win. “They got some good playing time in, got some rhythm and had a good time.”

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Oak Bay’s Caelan Scott (6) would chip in 13 points in the Bays 104-48 win over Claremont on Tuesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

McConnell especially had a good time in his return, leading all Bays scorers with 20 points. Aoi Yamaguchi with 19 and Caelan Scott with 13 were the other Bays scorers in double digits. Griffin and Mickelberry chipped in 9 and 4 points respectively.

Detailed scoring data for Claremont was not available.

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Oak Bay’s Madhu McConnell (3) throws up a prayer over the reach of Claremont’s Noah Jefferson (15) during second half action.  McConnells’s prayers were largely answered on the night as he led all scorers with 20 points (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Franklin looks forward to a successful year with his veteran squad and likes what he sees so far after a pair of strong outings. “We have three third-year seniors who work very hard and I like our skill level and the work ethic that the kids have been showing in practice. I think we have some room to become a little more physical and a little stronger, but I think we have some great potential for this season. As long as we are playing better after Christmas, that’s a big key for me.”

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Oak Bay’s Kenny Ngwenya (5) drives hard against the defence of Claremont’s Zach Manns (11) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Bays continue their regular season league schedule with a game against the Belmont Bulldogs on Thursday December 17th at 1:15 pm. This game also doubles as the opening game of the 2015 Gary Taylor Classic at Oak Bay High School. Other teams participating in the annual Classic include Lambrick Park, Cowichan, St. Michael’s, Vancouver College, Nanaimo and Calgary’s Sir Winston Churchill.

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Claremont’s Noah Jefferson (15) looks for a way around Oak Bay’s Kenny Ngwenya (5) during first half action (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Spartans will next host Spectrum on Thursday Dec. 10 and then Lambrick Park on Tuesday Dec. 15 before breaking for Christmas. They also head to Duncan on December 11 and 12th to participate in the 2015 Cowichan Welcome Tournament, facing Nanaimo in their first game on Friday the 11th.

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Oak Bay’s Madhu McConnell (3) floats to the hoop for 2 of his 20 points on Tuesday evening (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

In other Division 1 action Tuesday night, the aformentioned Lambrick Park Lions went up against Spectrum, winning handily 95-49. Division 2 league play also kicked off on Tuesday night with six of the 11 teams in action. Edward Milne defeated Glenlyon Norfolk 78-65, Victoria eked out a 57-55 win over Reynolds, and Parkland defeated St. Andrews 53-40.   On Wednesday night Division 2 action continues with Mount Douglas at Stelly’s and Reynolds at Esquimalt.