The Peter Skene Ogden Eagles basketball team netted its first win.
At a series of pre-season exhibition games in 100 Mile House on the weekend of Nov. 25, the Eagles faced off against the Lake City Secondary School Falcons, the Barriere Secondary School Cougars and the Correlieu Secondary School Coyotes. While they failed to catch the Falcons or the Cougars, the Eagles snatched victory from the Coyotes in an 80-66 game.
“It was a great weekend of exhibition games. I’m really happy that all these teams came from around the Cariboo,” Eagles coach Andrew Steeves said. “For us as a team, it was just a weekend of improvement. I think we showed we are a grittier basketball team, that we’ve learned from the past. I think there’s an opportunity to have a very competitive season.”
Building up a basketball program in 100 Mile House has long been a dream that Steeves has shared with his team. When they first started playing last year he said they regularly lost to the LCSS Falcons by 20 to 40 points. This weekend they trailed them 66-62 Friday and 59-54 Saturday, a marked improvement. Against the Cougars, they lost 65 to 54 Friday evening.
Grade 12 student and forward Wyatt Hollett credits their performance to the collective experience and dedication of the entire team. Even before the season started, Hollett and several other players trained after school, and he said that investment is now paying off.
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“This game (against the Falcons on Saturday) felt really good. We brought it back from a 10-point lead to a five-point lead and it was a pretty good game overall,” Hollett said. “We’re going to be seeing those guys a lot. They’re our arch-rivals, so we’ll get them at some point.”
Hollett said he liked that they had a few members of the junior boys’ basketball team playing with them over the weekend. They fit well into the team and will be the future of the program after he and the other seniors graduate.
Point guard Carter Nash, who scored 42 points throughout the weekend, said the weekend had a fun, energetic environment that he fed off. Like Hollett, Nash has enjoyed watching the team improve and grow every year.
“I think we just need to keep practising our plays and putting in the hard work,” Nash said. “I would like to work on my basketball sense, getting better at passing and finding people who are open.”
Steeves said that the weekend’s games have filled him with even more confidence in his team this year. The fact they finally got a win has energized the Eagles.
“You see the smiles on their faces and the energy as they come off the bench. We’re starting to play like a team more, and when you play like a team, success comes,” Steeves said. “Hard work pays off, and they are going to see some success this year.”
The Eagles attend eight tournaments across the province this year, and host one on Feb. 10 and 11. Steeves said his goal for the team this year is to win that hometown tournament in front of their peers.
“I think that will be a really good goal to set. We have some great teams coming, but our main goal is to win a tournament this year.”