He’s the proverbial chip off the old block, and a pretty big piece of one, you might add.
Erik Spaven is turning heads on the high school hardwood as the six-foot-five senior Belmont Bulldogs post player leads the Lower Island basketball league in scoring, averaging 26 points an outing.
His father, Curt, also represented the Langford high school before joining the Malaspina College Mariners (now Vancouver Island University) as they claimed a national championship back in the day.
“He plays bigger than he is. His hands and feet are good, and he knows how to use them inside and he seals well. He’s a bit like his old man that way,” Oak Bay Bays head coach Chris Franklin said with a chuckle.
“Erik is a good ball player. He’s worked pretty hard since Grade 10, when he started playing senior. Most certainly, you have to keep an eye on him and you have to keep him in check,” added Franklin.
The Oak Bay coach didn’t have to worry about it last week as Spaven was out due to injury, but the strapping young man has inflicted some pain on his opponents so far in this 2012-13 campaign.
His biggest output was a 44-point performance in a 74-67 win over Claremont back on Jan. 7, which handed the highly-rated Spartans their first defeat of the regular season.
“That was a fun game and he was great that night,” Bulldogs head coach Kevin Brown said of Spaven, whose younger brother Christian is a small forward on the team. “Claremont’s a smaller team so they have trouble with the bigger guys.
“Not that Erik is just a big post — he’s very agile for his size, so if you do put a guy his size on him, he’s usually able to beat them.”
Belmont, 6-2 on the regular season, is scheduled to get back at it this weekend at the Brentwood College/Shawnigan Lake Invitational tournament and Spaven was hoping to make his return in their opener Friday afternoon against North Vancouver’s Windsor.
Spaven opened the season with 23 points against Spectrum back on Dec. 4. Since then he has posted two of the top five scoring performances of the season with the 44 versus Claremont and he had 27 against Stelly’s on Jan. 14. He has also recorded 23 points three times.
“He works hard and he had a good year last year as well,” said Brown. “We had good hopes for him and he’s come through for us. He’s found some of his athleticism.
“He had it last year, but as you know with most players, when you become a senior, you grow into your body — you figure it out and he really has,” added Brown.
“He gives us a lot of effort, like all of my kids. They try real hard, which is never a problem. He feeds them with that, as well, and when a leader does that, it makes it easier for a coach to get his team to put it out there.”
Which Spaven does every outing.
“I’m having a lot of fun,” said Spaven. “I expected to play well, so yeah, I think it was expected.
“I try not to keep track of points. I just try and keep focused on the game. I just go out and play as hard as I can for the team and, in the end, I hope I have made a difference,” he said.
Brown insisted he never places expectations on players, statistics wise, although in his own mind he was hoping Spaven would average 20 a game. He’s six points better than that so far.
“It’s a little bit of a surprise to be leading the league,” said Spaven, who is hoping to continue his basketball career, likely at Camosun College next season. “I can’t believe I have scored that many, but the team trusts me with the ball. They keep giving me the ball and I love that.”
And he continues to respond.
JUMP SHOTS: Besides the two host teams, also in attendance this weekend at Brentwood/Shawnigan Lake will be Lambrick Park, Wellington, Mark Isfeld, Mount Douglas, Gulf Islands, St. Michaels University School, Highlands, Surrey’s Pacific Academy, Chilliwack’s G.W. Graham, Vancouver’s Notre Dame and Holy Cross and Surrey-based Southridge. The gold-medal game goes Saturday at 6 p.m. at Brentwood.
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