It wasn’t quite the start head coach Kyle Peruniak expected for the Chemainus Cougars senior boys basketball team, but you have to start somewhere.
“I was hoping for a little bit better outcome,” conceded Peruniak after the Cougars fell 68-22 to Gulf Islands Secondary in their season opener Thursday at Chemainus Secondary School. “It just shows we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
The Cougars fell behind by a large margin early, trailing 19-7 after the first quarter and managing to score just one point in the second quarter. They couldn’t get it going despite the urging of a large student-dominated crowd with an earlier start before the school day ended.
“I liked we had a full crowd,” said Peruniak. “That was sweet. There was a lot of nerves and anxiety at the beginning of that game.”
But that can only be a good thing to get team members excited about playing every time they step on the floor.
Peruniak is carrying 12 players, with only four holdovers from last year. Five have moved up from the junior team and the other three have never played basketball before.
It will take time to build the group into a cohesive unit, but Peruniak is optimistic that can happen.
“I was happy how we finished last year,” he noted. “We’re hoping for the same thing, but an even better finish to the year. We’re in a much better place at the start of the year than we re last year. We’re going to get there faster.”
Perhaps it was the first-game jitters or a lack of concentration, but “we didn’t run any of our offense,” said Peruniak.
He’s been working with the majority of the players since mid-October to prepare for the season.
The Cougars did get many open looks at the hoop, especially after Gulf Islands brought in subs for its starting five, but just couldn’t hit those shots. Remarkably, nine of their 22 points came on successful three-pointers – one each by Mark Harris, Jack Miller and CJ Loranger.
“We started off well that first quarter, we just couldn’t hit shots,” summarized Peruniak. “We just lost momentum and couldn’t regain it.”
At that point, he switched his game plan and made it a priority to get everyone onto the floor.
“Everybody got out there a couple of times and they got a feel for the speed and aggressiveness of senior boys basketball,” Peruniak added.
Gabe Harrison had a big game with 15 points to lead the Gulf Islands scoring. Three other players finished in double figures – Ezra Watson (12), Colton Archer (11) and Aaron Moise (10).
Peruniak liked the idea Chemainus got another crack at Gulf Islands right away on Monday to see if it could cut into the scoring differential substantially.
The Cougars play in their first tournament, the Edge of the World tournament, Friday and Saturday in Ucluelet.