After dropping the final by one basket last year, Oak Bay High hopes to make it a best-of-three against Calgary during the annual Gary Taylor Classic.
“That’s the first time we’ve lost in Victoria in over two years,” says player Cameron Henderson who played in that hard-fought loss.
“They’re coming back this year so hopefully it’s our year. I’m expecting us to win this year.”
The Sir Winston Churchill team out of Calgary makes a third trip for the 10th annual Gary Taylor Classic Dec. 14 to 16 at Oak Bay High. Teams from Vancouver College and Sir Thomas More are keen competitors from the mainland. Vancouver Island is represented by teams from Cowichan, Belmont, St. Michaels, and Lambrick who round out the tournament in both junior and senior divisions.
“I think a big part of this tournament is the crazy amount of competition we have coming,” says Cameron. “It should be pretty high quality.”
That makes for “insane” crowds he says.
“I think one of the best parts bout it is the whole school comes out and the community comes out so it’s a good chance to show school pride,” Cameron says. “It’s usually packed for most games.”
In the spirit of days gone by, the Oak Bay Jazz Band will make an appearance on Thursday while the Dance Troupe and Hip Hop Crew provide entertainment during half-time. Half-time will also include shooting contests and mini basketball games.
“That brings really good entertainment for the crowd. It’s just the more people that show up the better it gets,” said Claudia Singh, co-director of the tournament. “It’s just a really fun event.”
To mark the decade celebration, student organizers opted to involve a charity this year – Help Fill a Dream Foundation.
“This is our first year doing it, but I think we will want to continue the tradition,” Claudia said. “Twenty per cent of door admissions, which are by-donation, are going to the charity. We wanted a local charity and we really love what it does with kids, helps fulfill their dreams while they’re facing really hard battles.”
The Gary Taylor Classic is named after the coaching legend of the 1960s and ’70s. The tournament brings together the community, students, and teams from all over the province.
Games start Thursday with Oak Bay facing Cowichan in Game 1 at 2:15 p.m. in the senior draw on the Gary Taylor Court. St. Thomas More faces St. Michaels at 4 p.m., Vancouver College and Lambrick battle at 5:45 p.m. and Sir Winston Churchill takes on Belmont at 7:30.
On the junior side, St. Michaels starts the day facing Vancouver College at 2:15 p.m. on the Don Horwood Court. Reynolds faces Belmont at 4 p.m., Lambrick takes on St. Thomas More at 5:45 and Oak Bay hits the hardwood at 7:30 p.m. to take on Cowichan.
Watch for live updates on the tournament at the Gary Taylor Classic Facebook page.