Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
December 5, 2017, Victoria BC (ISN) – The 2017-2018 South Island Senior Boys High School Basketball season began on a number of fronts Tuesday, with the Claremont Spartans thumping the St. Michael’s University (SMUS) Blue Jags 56-31 at the SMUS gym in Saanich, in one of five games played across the region.
Both the AAAA Spartans and the AA Blue Jags are competing in South Island Tier 1 league, featuring the elite Senior Boy’s programs, including perennial powerhouses Oak Bay and Belmont, as well as Lambrick Park and new this year, the Mount Douglas Rams. Missing this season from Tier 1 are the Parkland Panthers, who will compete in Tier 2 for league play this year.
Pre-Season polls show Oak Bay and Belmont ranked one-two in the 4A Boys Island rankings with the Spartans ranked third, while the re-building Blue Jags, who lost a number of key players to graduation last season, find themselves ranked fourth on the Island in 2A, behind Brentwood College, Shawnigan Lake and Lambrick Park.
Despite these rankings, it was an undermanned SMUS squad, starting the season with two players out of the lineup due to academic issues and another out with a season ending injury, that took the play to the higher ranked and taller Spartans, getting a key three-pointer from Ty Olynk to start their scoring and then riding that to an 11-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
That would be the only bright point of the night for the Blue Jags, as the Spartans re-grouped to begin the second quarter, going on a 21-0 run and outscoring the Blue Jags 27-5 in the frame to take 34-16 lead into the half.
The Blue Jags shooting stayed cool in quarter three, as the Spartans built their lead to 50-24 at the quarter-break, before the subs came in to round out a fourth quarter that saw SMUS out-point Claremont 7-6 to round out the scoring in the 25-point Spartans victory.
Leading the way for Claremont was guard Dylan Smallwood, with 12 points, eight of which came in that dominating second quarter, while Nik Babaeff also hit double figures with a 10-point night.
For the Blue Jags, Kelvin Wong led the way with eight points, while Duc Khuong and Olynyk finished with seven and six points respectively.
In other opening night action Tuesday night, in Tier 1 play, the Belmont Bulldogs defeated the Mount Douglas Rams 89-60, while in Tier 2, Parkland defeated Glenlyon Norfolk 67-61. In 3A league play, Royal Bay crushed Edward Milne 81-37, while Victoria eked out a 65-61 win over Esquimalt.
League play continues this Thursday in 3A with Reynolds visiting Victoria and Royal Bay visiting Stelly’s, while the Mid-Island 2A league tips-off with Brentwood Bay visiting Gulf Islands.
League play continues in earnest with eight games scheduled for Tuesday December 12 and another seven games scheduled for Tuesday December 19.
Also upcoming this month is the annual Oak Bay Gary Taylor Classic that will take place December 14-16 and feature the host Bays, the Blue Jags, Lambrick Park and Belmont, the Mount Douglas Santa Slam Dec. 14-16 and the UVic Alumni Can-Am Invitational December 28-30 at the CARSA Performance Gym at UVic.
See more photos from the Claremont and SMUS game by Christian J. Stewart at http://christianjstewart.zenfolio.com/p406600718