Chemainus Cougars coach Kyle Peruniak provides some pointers to Nolan Baker at the bench.

Chemainus Cougars coach Kyle Peruniak provides some pointers to Nolan Baker at the bench.

Chemainus senior basketball team facing tough competition

Short bench makes it even tougher at Belmont tournament

It’s impossible to make up for lost time, but Kyle Peruniak is doing his best to cram in as much learning with the Chemainus Secondary Cougars senior boys basketball team as possible in a short time.

With so many players new to the game, Peruniak has to concentrate as much on fundamentals as team concepts.

“There’s a lot of learning going on,” he said. “If I had them for another year, we’d be a different team, for sure. Most of these guys, they’ve never played competitive basketball before.”

Those who aren’t graduating will definitely be a step ahead next season.

Chemainus is not exactly staying in its comfort zone, either. As a single-A school, the Cougars have already seen their fill of higher calibre competition, right up to quad-A.

“We’re playing serious basketball schools,” Peruniak indicated. “We’re doing really well. If we can just get more commitment from guys at practice.”

The Cougars also only had six players available – so one substitute – for Saturday games in the Rich Goulet tournament at Belmont.

“It went OK, guys are getting better each game,” said Peruniak. “It’s tough, mostly four-A schools. Other coaches are good and they’re seeing that. They’re not playing their hardest against us.”

Chemainus played against the host Belmont team in the tournament opener last Friday night and “they didn’t play their starting lineup against us,” Peruniak noted.

It’s a good thing because the Cougars still lost by more than 20 points.

Saturday’s shortstaffed team opened with a 63-49 loss to Belmont B. Alex Loewe had the team’s first double-double of the year that included 13 points while Patrick Wang stepped up to score 17 and Darius Thomas netted a dozen.

“We easily could have won that game, I feel,” said Peruniak.

But a lack of players on the bench made it tough.

Chemainus went on to lose to John Barsby of Nanaimo in its other game that day.

Earlier in the week, the Cougars travelled to Oak Bay and were thumped by 56 points against a very good Oak Bay B team.

The effort has been there, for the most part, so Peruniak is hoping more wins will materialize against other single-A opponents.

“I’m just waiting for our offense to kick in and match our defence,” he said.