Sports

2011-12 Richmond Secondary School's Senior Basketball Preview

Vijay Dhillon, who led the Palmer Griffins to the B.C. AAA high school senior boys’ basketball championship last season, has taken his game to the University of Victoria. But despite losing all the starting five to graduation, Griffins’ coach Paul Eberhardt believes his team can again challenge for provincial supremacy. - John Gordon
Vijay Dhillon, who led the Palmer Griffins to the B.C. AAA high school senior boys’ basketball championship last season, has taken his game to the University of Victoria. But despite losing all the starting five to graduation, Griffins’ coach Paul Eberhardt believes his team can again challenge for provincial supremacy.
— image credit: John Gordon

The high school basketball season always elicits plenty of interest and the 2011-12 campaign promises to be no exception.

Though all the starters from last year’s provincial AAA senior boys’ championship team have graduated, the R.C. Palmer Griffins will look to Grade 11 forward Jamie Madewan to help them challenge for supremacy once again. And at the senior girls’ level, the Steveston-London Sharks will rely heavily on their ace Grade 11 point guard Anmol Mattu to help lead them into uncharted waters.

But one of the unique things about sport is its unpredictability. So pull up a seat and cheer on your favourite Richmond team.

BOYS:

R.C. Palmer Griffins

One of the greatest challenges in sport is trying to repeat, but Palmer coach Paul Eberhardt genuinely believes the Griffins can do it.

Their hopes rest squarely on the shoulders of six-foot-five Grade 11 forward Jamie Madewan.

Regarded by many as one of the top high schoolers in the province, he was one of only three B.C. players to try out for the national Cadet team and was the leading scorer for the provincial under-16 team. He’s also coming off a great 2010-11 season in which he averaged 10 points per game off the bench including four straight three-pointers in the championship game against Vancouver College.

While Madewan is a natural guard, Eberhardt plans to play him at all positions.

“Jamie is a very polished offensive player as he can hit the three-pointer and also get to the hoop with great efficiency,” said Eberhardt. “He has a very long athletic body which also helps rebound, and he can use his quickness to beat bigger players. I think he has the ability to truly be one of the all-time greats that I have ever coached.”

Grade 12s will make up the remainder of the starting lineup. Tyler Debeer, a six-foot-three forward, is a physically strong athlete who Eberhardt predicts will be among the team leaders in rebounding and inside scoring. He has also worked to improve his outside shooting and is adapt at guarding bigger players inside the paint, understanding  how to effectively use his strength and positioning.

“I expect him to be close to averaging a double-double this season,” said Eberhardt.

Ben Samy is an explosive guard who should thrive in the Griffins’ up-tempo style. He has a solid pull-up jumper and has extended his range to become a good three-point shooter.

J.P. Javier learned the point guard job from two of the best last season in Billy Cheng and Vijay Dhillon and is now ready to take on the starting role. He’s a creative ball-handler and passer is good at pushing the ball up the floor.

With a great outside shot, Chris Randing will line up as a shooting guard and should be among the team leaders from three-point range. He has also improved his passing and defensive abilities and should provide consistent minutes for the Griffins.

Palmer is currently riding a 65- game unbeaten streak against Richmond teams.

J.N. Burnett Breakers

Jason Leslie and Novell Thomas have teamed up to coach a young and small senior boys’ team at Burnett that has plenty of promise.

“They will play hard and learn a lot, and we expect them to be very competitive,” said Leslie.

The starting five will feature Brandon Beavis at point guard, Alban Shala at shooting guard, Kabir Sandhu in the post and Tyler Samuels at power forward. Daniel Liu, the lone Grade 12, rounds things out.

Leslie said the bench is also quite strong and is counting on all 11 players on the roster to make “significant contributions.”

“As Kabir gets used the physical style at senior we expect him to really grow,” said Leslie. “And Daniel will also improve greatly as he gets used to organized basketball, since we did not have a senior team last year.”

The Breakers will have to play fast, but controlled, to take advantage of their speed and reduce the size disadvantage we’ll have,” he said. “We expect a very competitive league and plan on being in the mix. Having (former Canadian national team player) Novell work with the team, and bring his wealth of experience and knowledge of the game, will be huge for these players.”

R.A. McMath Wildcats

Co-coaches Jason Belonio and Ben Scarr expect the Wildcats to be more than competitive this season. And with good reason. Their returning Grade 12s were part of a team that finished second in the Richmond league last season, during which their only loss was to Palmer. And McMath’s Grade 11s finished fourth at the B.C. junior boys’ championships.

Already, Belonio says there appears to be good chemistry on the floor.

Leading the way is third-year starting point guard Josh Parkes, who as a first team all-star last season. Belonio says he’s underrated because not many coaches outside of Richmond know how good a shooter he is.

Andrew McCaskill is a Grade 11 point guard who was an all-star at least year’s provincial junior tournament. He’s good at creating shots for both himself and teammates.

Senior Jordan Gilles is a solid defender who will be assigned the job of guarding the best opposing perimeter player each game, while Garth Anderson and Shannon Faleiro are expected be contribute to the Wildcats’ inside scoring. Grade 11 Matt Perry just may be the team’s best rebounder and post defender.

McMath’s success will depend on its ability to play an up-tempo game by creating turnovers through its pressure defence.

Hugh McRoberts Strikers

Coach Brian Meier is having difficulty containing his excitement regarding the 2011-12 season. With good reason.

“I believe there are several teams that can all be competitive, so it should be a lot of fun,” he said.

The Strikers expect to be one of those teams, with Meier proud of the solid work ethic his players show at every practice and in every game.

“We expect to be the hardest working, toughest team on the floor each night,” he said. “For us to be successful, we need to want it more than the other team.”

Meier said the Strikers will be known for their strength of play as a unit. He preaches the concept of team, he said, because he fundamentally believes in it.

That being said, it is hard not to get excited about the prospects of Grade 9 point guard Arnold Jr. Macalipay, a first team all-star at the 2011 Western Canada Summer Games. Tremendously athletic, he possesses skills that you cannot teach—you simply have them or you don’t.

“He has me shaking my head in amazement at least a couple times every game; and I see him play every day,” said Meier. “Arnold was a first team all-star at the Western Canada Summer Games this past summer as a U14 player on a U15 team.

Another player to note is Grade 11 guard Terry Lok who is unquestionably the leader of this group as his tough, athletic style of play sets the tone for the rest of the team. There may not be a harder working basketball player in the city and his skill might catch people off guard, said Meier.

Because of his size, six-foot-three, Grade 10 guard John Tseng could be a factor as the season rolls on. He also possesses a wide variety of skills and simply needs more experience.

“The more he plays against older, stronger competition the better he will become,” predicted Meier.

Richmond Colts

With eight returning players, the Colts will have plenty of experience to draw on this season. How well they use it, however, will determine how successful the team is.

“They worked hard over the summer so I’m hopeful their games will continue to improve and they’ll challenge each other every day,” said coach Les Brown. “If they do, we will be OK.”

Leslie Tsang has improved each of the last two seasons and appears poised to take on an ever bigger role with the Colts this season. Ami Roshanravan has also improved and should be a consistent presence on the floor, while Steve Kao will be relied upon for his leadership and experience.

David Yap made the team as a Grade 10 and has fit in with the up-tempo style Brown wants the Colts to play.

“We don’t have the luxury to set up a half-court game, but we should be pretty quick,” he said.

Steveston-London Sharks

Coach Mike Stoneburgh has high expectations of the Sharks this season.

“We expect to be very competitive and challenge for top spot in the Richmond league,” he said.

The Sharks will count heavily on Grade 11 Kingston Chung, who returns for his second season as the starting point guard. He had a statistically strong campaign a year ago during which he averaged 8.1 points and 4.6 assists per game.

Grade 12 forward Andrew Huang is being counted on to contribute in the paint, while improving on his 8.6 points and 7.6 rebound average per game last season.

A knee injury cut short Malcolm Lee’s junior season a year ago, but the talented Grade 11 appears to have made a strong recovery and is poised to be another strong contributor to the Shark attack.

“He’s a great two-way player and doesn’t have to score to be noticed,” said Stoneburgh. “He will be a leader in steals and rebounds.”

Bowen Bakken is a Grade 10 student who is coming off a great summer playing for a Basketball BC regional team. He has great offensive side, and isn’t afraid of contact.

The Sharks don’t have a lot of size, but are blessed with good depth, plenty of quickness and strong shooting skills.

GIRLS:

Steveston-London Sharks

The Sharks aren’t big, but they certainly have plenty of bite—perhaps even enough to challenge some of the better teams in B.C. for provincial supremacy.

Veteran coach Les Hamaguchi has assembled a talented team of 10 players; five returnees and five newcomers he believes have the skills and make up to be among the elite.

Leading the way is Grade 11 guard Anmol Mattu, who has been a Sharks starter since Grade 8.

League MVP a year ago, Mattu continues to grow and mature. The experience she gained playing for Canada’s under-16 women’s team at the 2011 FIBA Americas Championships in June in Mexico has made her that much more of a dynamic player.

“It’s tough to improve on some of her skills, but subtly she has,” Hamaguchi said. “That experience with Canada, and her naturally maturing, has helped. The main thing is her confidence level is higher and that translates into some better decisions.”

A league all-star a season ago, Grade 12 forward Lindsay O’Loughlin also appears to have taken significant steps.

“Lindsay is a very good rebounder and outlets the ball well, but she’s also a very versatile, athletic big  (six-footer) kid who wants to improve which is always a positive,” said Hamaguchi.

Forward Alyssa Critchley and guards Jessica Lang and Lauren Kim Sing round out the returnees.

The newcomers are all talented athletes, who play several sports at a high level. They include versatile Alyssa Graeme, who can play guard or forward, Shayla Kaplen, Nadia Drissi El-Bouzaidi and Aliya Prasad.

“It’s early, but very promising,” said Hamaguchi. “Overall, we seems to be faster as a team and what I like so far from this group are their instincts. They’re very athletic and their thought process is good. Technically we still have a ways to go, but they don’t seem shy about mixing it up.”

R.C. Palmer Griffins

A guard-heavy team, the Griffins will be led offensively by Richmond regional players Allyssa Alano and Connie Chan. They bring experience and solid wing-play. Anh Hoang, a forward/guard brings strong on-court leadership and intensity, while Olivia Liao offers an effective and consistent sense of defensive awareness.

Palmer also has three Grade 10 players in Jasmine Lehal, Vivian Tsang and Maegan Cu who are also expected to log a significant number of minutes.

“Hopefully they will soon be strong role players, and possibly starters for this team,” said coach Paul Teodosio, who wants the Griffins to play a high-tempo style both on offence and defence.

“Speed is definitely a strength, and it shows,” he says. “We need to work on our team play but that will develop fast as the season goes along.”

Hugh Boyd Trojans

The Trojans head into the 2011-12 campaign sporting one of the most senior-laden lineups in the Richmond league. Six returning seniors—Jerizza Beltran, Olivia Ciccozzi, Hillary Strelau, Alexis Khoshaba, Alix Ruttan and Mariah Hay—have played together since they were Grade 8s and bring plenty of experience and dedication with them.

Newcomers Sarah Olson, Cassie Goh, Salome Dede and Rachel Ang bring athleticism and energy to the team.

“Overall, the season will be a process,” said coach Stu Ruttan. “We have lots to learn but also lots of opportunity to play. I expect they’ll work hard and we will see where the chips fall. If they can dedicate themselves to the process they will see rewards.”

The league will be tough this year, Ruttan predicted. But, he added, it’s nice to see the level of basketball rising again in Richmond.

“I just hope it can be sustained,” he said.

Ruttan is also looking forward to coaching against one of his own former coaches. Steveston-London mentor Les Hamaguchi was just getting his start in coaching during Ruttan’s junior high playing days. Ruttan is also looking forward to participating in the Bob Carkner Classic, which is hosted annually in January by Steveston-London. Ruttan and Mike Carkner (Bob’s son) played on Hugh Boyd’s junior boys’ team which Hamaguchi coached.

“Now, both (Carkner’s) and my daughter are in their last year, so that will be a special event for sure,” Ruttan said.

Hugh McRoberts Strikers

This year’s version of the Strikers will be small in numbers, but coach Fernando deGuzman says not in talent.

“Although we’re lacking in experience, we expect the players to use their athleticism to compete at this high level,” he said.

Because of other commitments, so far the only returning players are Grade 11s Simran Hothi and Joeven Dhari. The rest of the team will be made up of last year’s Richmond Juvenile league champions.

The starting five will consist of Grade 10s Leah Lum, Elana Hong-Sponage, Natalie Fitzpatrick and Marie-eve Beaulieu, and Grade 11 Simran Hothi.

Former Strikers Catterina Rios and Sherma Libatique will be assistant coaches this season.

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