COVER STORY: South Delta hoop dreams

January 24, 2014

The 2014 B.C. high school basketball season is proving to be a time of new beginnings for the four senior teams here in Ladner and Tsawwassen.

Both Delta Secondary School’s boys and girls teams, as well as South Delta Secondary School’s boys and girls team each have a new coach at the helm this year.

This week, the South Delta Leader takes a look at the four local programs as the high school basketball season heats up ahead of playoffs next month.

DSS Pacers boys

Head coach Tim Whitehead may be new to the world of coaching AAAA high school basketball, but his b-ball pedigree is long and impressive.

After his high school playing career at Southridge School in Surrey came to an end, Whitehead went on to play for Douglas College, where he won a national championship.

While an injury curtailed his collegiate playing career, Whitehead wasted no time moving to coaching, and became the assistant coach for the Douglas College Royals.

Whitehead moved on to UBC, where he completed his masters degree, and when the opportunity came to coach at DSS with the departure of Matt McKay to SFU, Whitehead says he jumped at the chance.

“I’m friends with some Delta alumni, and they thought I’d be a suitable replacement,” he says. “I was just in the right place at the right time.”

This year’s team looks to improve on last year’s 6-4 record in league play, and are off to a 1-0 start so far this year.

Whitehead says he has tried to introduce a dynamic college-style defensive system to the team, and encourage uptempo play.

“We have a good amount of talent to compete with the elite teams in B.C.,” says Whitehead. “If we play hard we have a chance to win every time out.”

The 2014 edition of the Delta Pacers senior boys’ basketball team are Bowen Bakken, Colton Bakken, Adrian Blanco, Ryan Cowley, Mackenzie Falk, Andrew Jones, Michael Lee, Erik Lister, Gurpaul Teja, Gurpreet Teja, Mark Trotman, and Patrick Villa.

DSS Pacers girls

It wasn’t so long ago that head coach Rachel Bock was a student at Delta Secondary. Bock graduated DSS in 2010, but she never really left, after getting roped into coaching the school’s Grade 8 girls’ team the next year.

Bock has followed that group of girls through the junior ranks and this year coaches them at the senior level for the first time.

While this year’s team is young, with only three senior players, the time spent playing together over the past three years is paying dividends.

“We’re not an overly tall team, but we are quick and we work well as a team,” says Bock.

The Pacers play an uptempo game built around a suffocating man-to-man defence and a fast break offence.

The team has a 4-4 record so far this season in the Fraser Valley AAA Tier 2 Zone 2 league.

The 2014 edition of the Delta Pacers senior girls’ basketball team are Zoe Gillis, Bobby Milford, Melissa Seidel, Jessie Lynes, Bianca Copeland, Maryah Copeland, Leslie Antic,  Jessica Van Ryk, Angela Noguer, Natalie Baltzer, Taylor Rana, and Abby Parson.

SDSS Sun Devils boys

While Sun Devils coach Kirk Bullough is new to South Delta Secondary School, he’s no stranger to senior boys’ basketball.

Bullough is the former coach for the Sands Scorpions senior boys’ team, and has coached extensively at the junior level at Delta Secondary and Vancouver Tech.

He takes over a Sun Devils team that is admittedly in a rebuilding year, with only two Grade 12s on the roster.

Since every player on the team falls between five-foot-10 and six-foot-two, Bullough says that makes running a single post difficult.

“We don’t have any big men, so there’s no centres, no forwards,” he says. “I’m trying to have them play multi-positional.”

The team’s relative inexperience - two players have never played organized basketball before - means Bullough has had to keep things basic this year.

But the team has shown signs of improvement over the past month, and that bodes well for next year.

“The school does a great job of supporting us,” says Bullough. “SDSS has a great sports history, and we’re going to continue that.”

The 2014 edition of the South Delta Sun Devils senior boys’ basketball team are Brad Bramah, Gordon Cooper, Ryley Esler, Hayden Grant, Liam Jantzi, Teegan Johnston, Rishab Lamba, Dylan Lamontagne, Spencer Mallard, Sam Pritchard, Trevor Raderecht, Colin Stroh, and Steven Yin.

SDSS Sun Devils girls

Like her counterpart at Delta Secondary, Sun Devils girls’ coach Cheryl Kristiansen has been coaching the same group of girls since they were at the Grade 8 level.

Last year her junior team were District Champions and this year, she’s hoping her girls can finish at the top of the Fraser Valley AAA Tier 2 Zone 2 standings.

“It’s  been very rewarding to watch them develop as individual players, team mates and as young women,” she says.

Kristiansen played basketball at the University of Manitoba and played many years in a women’s league in Winnipeg before moving to B.C.

This year’s edition of the Sun Devils girls’ squad is made up of good mix of players in Grades 10 to 12, with most athletes playing multiple sports at competitive levels.

The team has already had considerable success this season, having won the St. Pat’s Shamrock Tournament in Vancouver last month.

The Sun Devils are already off to a 4-1 record in league play, with their only loss coming to Seaquam by a two-point buzzer-beater.

“In any given game, many players step up offensively to contribute to team scoring,” says Kristiansen. “Very often we have two or three players in double-digit scoring and others with three to four baskets each to contribute to the team effort.”

The 2014 edition of the South Delta Sun Devils senior girls’ basketball team are Taylor Bamford, Christine Howlett, Jasmine Crump, Lauren Dewar,  Miranda Schulz,  Jessica Hasker, Jill Calvert, Kathryn Lehmann, Rebecca Dewar, Julia Adams, and Kassidy Nicholls.