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Two teams out on Vancouver Island can lay claim to one of the most contentious rivalries in BC high school basketball. The Oak Bay Bays and the Belmont Bulldogs have battled it out for Island supremacy for the past few seasons, and it will only get more heated next season and beyond.
The rivalry stems for the fact that both schools have been the dominant teams on Vancouver Island for the past few seasons. With only one automatic berth to provincials, the two programs have had many hotly contested battles.
Look no further than the past two Vancouver Island finals. In 2017 Oak Bay defeated Belmont 83-64, forcing the Bulldogs into the challenge game against Cowichan which they eventually won to advance to provincials. In 2018 Belmont suffered another defeat to Oak Bay, this time getting licked 105-56 in the final. Once again the Bulldogs were forced to play Cowichan and once again they defeated them, this time by over 30 points.
Once both teams made it to the big dance, It was looking like these two teams would face each other in the semi-finals. Both teams were in the quarterfinals after Belmont upset W.J. Mouat, and were on a collision course to play each other. However, Oak Bay’s loss to eventual champs Burnaby South meant that basketball fans were robbed of what could have been an epic semi-final clash.
Heading into next season, the rivalry may look a bit different on both ends. Belmont will miss standout guard Nishad Tarak as well as big man Isaac Ickovich — which means Daunte Nelson and Maxwell Leeder will be heavily relied up. For Oak Bay, they will be without the services of Riley Cronk and Caelan Scott, but Diego Maffia will still be there to terrorize the bulldogs.
Belmont may have the better team overall next year, but Oak Bay may have the top player in all of British Columbia in Diego Maffia. It should make for more fantastic and entertaining games in an already great rivalry.
Written by: Nick Bondi