Get Out of Town: three unfamiliar teams playing in BC’s Western Canada Basketball Tournament

The Interior Savings Western Canada Basketball Tournament tipped off this

weekend and aside from the usual suspects that frequent high school basketball

events, three out-of- province teams joined the squad to take on the best that the

west has to offer.

Marion Graham Falcons – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

The Falcons flew all the way from the prairies to participate in this event. Head

coach Dan Dewar says this is the first time in his coaching career that he’s travelled

with a high school team via plane.


“It’s a great experience for the guys…to come out to the premier tournament in

British Columbia for high school basketball is special,” he says.


This isn’t Dewar’s first rodeo.


Between basketball and football, he’s been coaching for 29 years at both the high

school and university level. Outside of Marion Graham, Dewar has found a home

with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies. Lucky for him, his two nephews play

for each respective team.


“I’ve probably needed them more than they’ve needed me.”


Just five years ago, Dewar’s brother John passed away from cancer. By coaching both

of his nephews, he’s been able to hold on to the connection that he had with his only

sibling.


“He was the best big brother anyone could ever have,” says Coach Dewar. “It’s very

therapeutic for me to keep in touch with the boys. I’m not a father figure for them in

any way, but it allows me to work with them. I could never replace my best friend,

yet it’s a great way for me to keep that contact.”


Alexander Dewar, a 6’3 point guard for the Falcons, has played for his uncle since

Grade 9 and recently signed with the Huskies, as well. Coach Dewar is more than

happy about Alex’s decision to join his older brother Addison at the University of

Saskatchewan.

“I think he made the right choice, with having the family tradition and his dad

having played for the Huskies. He’s going to have another career now and he’ll be moving on. He’ll continue playing and I’ll still get a chance to coach him,” says

Dewar.


Coach regards Alex as a very calm and collective player, but still has some final

advice for his youngest nephew as he embarks on his next journey:

“I’d say to just enjoy the moment when he plays,” he says. He gets to play with his

brother again and they actually bring out the best in each other. So enjoy that

moment!”


Vincent Massey Trojans – Winnipeg, Manitoba

This will be the Trojans first appearance ever in the Western Canada Basketball

Tournament. And while they have never taken part in this specific event, head coach

Nick Lother is proud to be the one to take his team to a tournament of this caliber.


“We were honoured to get the invite. Some of the boys that have been involved in

the program that were graduating were a little bit disappointed, but we were very

fortunate for the first few groups that I had that sort of put in the work for us to get

this invite. The boys that are here know that they’re here representing the guys that

sort of came before them,” says Lother. “So it’s certainly an honour and we’re very

excited to get the opportunity to play at such a high level.”


Lother started coaching in 2012 at the University of Winnipeg and then was hired

on as a teacher at Vincent Massey Collegiate.


“I’ve been doing the basketball program for four years and am proud of where the

Trojans are this season.”


Coach Lother regards this tourney as one that will help his team improve within

their own league. Though the goal is always to win, he emphasizes that the Trojans

will use this as an opportunity to fix their flaws and prepare for the tough

tournaments back home.


“We’re here to get better and to play some highly competitive basketball teams.”

Aside from basketball itself, Lother hopes the team will take the time to bond with

one another.


“It’s a great opportunity for the guys to get together and to deepen their

relationships on the team. A lot of it has to do with things that are away from

basketball and I think the boys know that.”


Harry Ainlay Titans – Edmonton, Alberta


Even though Alberta borders British Columbia, the Titans rarely come to the

Western Canada tourney.


“We honestly don’t ever choose to come here unless we think we have a chance to

win,” says George Hoyt, head coach of the Titans. “If you’re not here to be in the hunt

for it, it can get embarrassing real fast.”


Hoyt has 22 years of coaching under his belt – with 12 years at Harry Ainlay. He’s

even coached at the CIS level at both UVIC and the University of Alberta. Hoyt

believes this tournament is essential to the team’s overall success this year.

“It’s one component in our process to be provincial champions.”


Regardless of the competition at hand, Coach Hoyt truly appreciates the school spirit

and sportsmanship from the Kelowna Owls and their fans.


“One of the great things about this tournament is there’s always such a warm

welcome. I remember when we were fortunate enough to win the one year, there

was a gentleman, must have been 85, he walked over and shook my hand, and he

said, ‘You know, you have a great team.’ And he meant about the quality of play, not

the razzle-dazzle.”


Hailing from BC himself, Hoyt enjoys being able to catch up with old friends and

fellow coaches around town. The whole vibe allows for his team to share in

anunforgettable experience with other teams that they don’t always have an

opportunity to play against.


“There’s always such a warm, welcoming feel. They just want to see good basketball

on the court and it doesn’t matter where you’re from. [Everyone’s] excited to

compete and also be a spectator, as well.”


Harry Ainlay is the only out-of-province team to make it to the Interior Savings

Western Canada Basketball tournament finals. Catch them tomorrow night at

Kelowna Secondary School against Abbotsford’s W.J. Mouat Hawks. Game time is

7pm.


Written By: Crystal Scuor

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