Despite some turbulent “ups and downs” early in the season, the Belmont Bulldogs are looking like a serious contender in the Island’s AAA basketball conference.
The Bulldogs made it to the final of Cowichan secondary school’s annual Welcome Back tournament on Saturday, only to lose to the Mount Douglas Rams 77-69.
It’s a big step for the Bulldogs, as most coaches are pointing to Mount Doug as a favourite on the Island.
Coach Kevin Brown says the Bulldogs players can build a lot off of it but realize they’re still relatively inexperienced.
“(Our guys) know their potential. And they know the kids (on Mount Doug and other teams). They know they can play with them because they’ve all played in the same summer league. It just took our guys some getting used to playing on their own team.”
Belmont defeated the Claremont Spartans 76-73 in the semifinal, with Claremont taking the third place game over Ladysmith 70-45.
Brown said Belmont could have made the final even closer if not for a slow start.
“We got a little nervous with Mount Doug carrying an early season reputation as being the team-to-beat.”
Down by 13 at the half, the Bulldogs upped their pressure and intensity to bring the score within two in the fourth quarter. But that was as close as they’d get.
Grade 12s Jordan Fenn, Brock Holland and Erik Spaven combined for about 60 points against the Rams, said the coach. Guards Holland and Fenn are part of an interchangeable attack with Grade 11 Kane Johnston doing the majority of the ball handling, Brown said.
“Holland is really rising to the challenge despite playing limited minutes as a Grade 11 (last season).”
The Bulldogs met the Rams again on Tuesday in league play (past press time). Both will play in this weekend’s Gary Taylor Classic at Oak Bay High.