VIU Athletes save High School Bball Program

January 22nd, 2013

Islanders finally finding success
NDSS hadn't won a senior boys game in years and almost didn't have a program this season
Josh Aldrich
Daily News


Grade 10s generally are not starting point guards on senior boys high school basketball teams, and when they are it often means the program is in trouble.

But for the Nanaimo District Secondary School Islanders, it is a Grade 10 point guard that is leading them back to respectability.

They dropped down from the Vancouver Island AAA North Island Division to the AA Mid Island Division and are finally finding out what it's like to be on the right side of the scoreboard. The Islanders's four wins this year give them four more than had in the last three years combined, and are ranked No. 10 on the Island.

At the heart of this resurgence is 15-year-old point guard Tyus Barfoot, but it goes so much deeper than just him. They are tall, experienced, athletic and, above all, hungry.

On Tuesday they suffered their second loss of the season, dropping a 94-48 result to the Woodlands Eagles at Woodlands Secondary School.

Aiden Goodall led the Islanders with 18 points while Barfoot added 14. Meanwhile, Bryson Cox scored 30 and Aaron Halsall 24 for the Eagles.

But this season all could have been for naught had a trio of Vancouver Island University Mariners men's players not stepped up to take on coaching - Brandon Jones, Harrison Stupich and Eric D'Andrea.

"We couldn't imagine being in high school . . . and knowing your team could be cancelled because you didn't have coaches. It would be tragic," said D'Andrea who has taken on the head coach title. "It was a no-brainer for us, we figured we have a bit of spare time and we could fit them into our schedule. Basketball is a fun sport and they've shown they want to be out there to play."

NDSS is led by a strong group of Grade 12s including six-foot-five, 210-pound forward Goodall, guard Peter LePatezour, Eric Lindsay and Chris Matin The highlight of the year so far is a silver medal they earned at the Mark Isfeld senior boys basketball tournament in Courtenay.

They have been through the frustration and pain of the last few years together. For once, they have expectations of making a run at the Island championships and on to provincials.

"It's my last year and I feel like this is going to be a good one . . . it's indescribable," said LePate-zour, 17.

The VIU coaching staff has done their best to teach the Mariners' Princeton offence, a system that thrives on passing the ball around and the ability to knock down the outside. The trick is, it's a new system for the Mariners as well, but the young Islanders seem to be picking it up well.

"There's a bit of a learning curve . . . but you can't knock how hard they're working at it.," said D'Andrea. "The kids even go into the gym themselves at lunchtime when we're not there to work on some stuff."

Making it all go, is Barfoot who also starred at receiver for the NDSS junior varsity football program.

D'Andrea says there was no hesitation to slot him in as the starting point guard, his talents were obvious early on, and he has handled it well.

"When he came into our training camp, his ball handling and skills were with everyone, if not a bit higher," said D'Andrea.

"His development has got better throughout the year and there was no hesitation putting that responsibility on a Grade 10 player and he's done a good job with it so far."

The six-foot-three rookie is just trying to learn as much as he can from his college coaches, including their work ethic.

"They push us really hard, but it's nice that they know what we're going through," he said.

But there is still a lot of room for this team to grow. Being new to winning, the ability to keep their focus and confidence up will go a long way to making them true contenders.

"The team so far has had flashes of brilliance where we look really great, we work really hard, everyone is talking, we have contributions from everyone . .

. but it's finding a way to bring that energy for 40 minutes," said D'Andrea.