Hope Secondary’s indoor hoops are starting to heat up, with plenty of action before the Christmas break.
This Friday at 2 p.m., the senior Mustang girls begin their annual tournament with a match against Fraser Lake. It’s an eight-team tourney, with games continuing to Saturday evening’s championship final.
Monday at 6:15 p.m., the girls host Chilliwack’s Unity Christian, with the boys’ game following right after — then on Tuesday, past grads return to the HSS gym for games against the senior boys and girls. The girls take on the grads at 6:15 p.m. and the boys follow at about 8 p.m. Senior girls’ head coach, Jeff Kuhn, said the girls have seen some league play already and they took part in the Agassiz tournament last weekend, so they’ve had some chances to put their practice drills into game play.
“It’s a rebuilding year,” said Kuhn, the senior pastor at Grace Baptist Church. “We lost four of our starters to graduation. We’ve only got four Grade 12s this year, so we’re young — but we’re working hard and I’m seeing good things happen.
“We don’t really have much height but we’re working for speed and giving that ‘little bit more,’” said Kuhn.
“A little more focus. A little more effort. A little more commitment.”
Kuhn has been trying a few initiatives, to build the commitment level and team spirit.
“All the players have a ball and they all signed each other’s. I asked them to carry it with them, wherever they go — and I tell them if I catch them downtown without it, they’ll be running at practice for an extra 20 minutes.”
One girl took it to the Hope Cinema, said Kuhn, but the owner made her leave it behind the counter.
They also had a 25-hour practice, including game videos and a sleepover at the school.
Kuhn credits the internet for the inspiration of many of his coaching ideas. “It’s such a great resource,” he said.
At the Agassiz tournament, Hope faced a big, powerful and skilled Princeton squad that were ranked second in the province in single-A ball last year. Hope’s shooting was tentative — and it was tough to penetrate the key for lay-ups or rebounds.
“They whomped us pretty good, by about 30 points,” said Kuhn.
Princeton’s leading scorers, Destiny Earle and Logan Littlejohn teamed up for 29 points between them, while Hope shared only 17 points amongst the whole team. Madison Kuhn bagged five points, including a trey.
Mina Kim led with nine points in a 30-25 loss to Nelson in the next game. Hope outscored Nelson 13-6 in the second half, making things interesting in the late stages.
Azalia John was recovering from strep throat and got her form back in the final game versus BC Christian Academy. John put nine points on the board, just behind Kelsey Striker’s 10 and Hope cruised to a 42-26 win.
The girls travelled to Port Coquitlam for a league game against BCCA on Monday and beat them once more.
Rebecca Arrowsmith is the lead organizer for the alumni game. She said on Tuesday that she had to cut the men’s roster at 15, though the women have only eight so far.
Recent grads Nathan Polomark, Ivan Marlatt, Travis Herrling and Jay Dongen will join players of the more distant past, including Kyle Kjemhus and Eric Williams.
Arrowsmith said the alumni women include herself, Richelle Willick, Morgann Steeves, Betsy Kopola-Hoshowski, Arden Sauvé and Kjemhus’s wife, Taylor.
Kjemhus confessed Tuesday, “For all intents and purposes, I haven’t played since last year’s game. Tay hasn’t played since the game two years ago, as she was pregnant last year. It should be a lot of fun, we’re both really looking forward to it.”
The alumni game is a fundraiser for the school’s athletic program, to help cover the cost of travel and uniforms.
Admission is by donation and there will be a number of raffles and 50-50 draws.
For more pre and post-game chat, check out the Facebook group at “Hope Secondary Annual Alumni.”