It’s not the start the Chemainus Cougars junior boys basketball team was looking for, but an admirable effort under the circumstances.
Coach Graeme Arkell’s squad made its season debut with a 55-28 loss to Brookes of Shawnigan Lake at the Cowichan Secondary School gym last Tuesday.
“We were a little bit handicapped,” noted Arkell. “We didn’t have our star player.”
C.J. Loranger was ill and did not suit up for the game.
Despite that, Chemainus hung tough throughout the first half, trailing only 14-9 after the first quarter and 20-14 at the break. Brookes pulled away in the third quarter, utilizing razzle dazzle dribbling and shooting for some impressive baskets.
“I just decided I’m going to put in all my players,” said Arkell. “I wanted to make sure everyone got some playing time.”
He would normally have his top five players on the floor to open the second half, but without Loranger decided to just improvise with the lineup.
Dyson Blitterswyk, Austin Webb and Kyle Brown all had six points to lead the Chemainus scoring.
“It was pretty stiff defence,” said Arkell of Brookes that limited the Cougars to 14 points in each half.
“That’ll be our hardest competition this season is Brookes. They’ve got some awesome players.”
But for the first game of the season, Arkell saw many reasons for optimism with his squad.
“It was a good one to build on,” he indicated. “It was nice to give everyone some game action.
“I think we’re going to go far.”
A good crowd came out to cheer on the team and Arkell hopes to see that continue and build enthusiasm for the basketball program at Chemainus.
“It was nice to see the students came out and the parents came out,” he conceded.
The Cougars return from the Christmas break with games starting up again in mid-January.