The Claremont Spartans bathed the Island high school basketball season in glowing red, as in their jersey colour, in both boys’ and girls’ play.
The B.C. fourth-ranked Spartans won the Lower Island boys’ Quad-A title and go after the Island championship beginning Thursday at Nanaimo District Secondary.
The Claremont girls’ team, meanwhile, defeated the Royal Bay Ravens 71-64 in the Island Quad-A final played over the weekend at Belmont to advance to the B.C. championship tournament Feb. 26-29 at the Langley Events Centre.
The Spartans girls’ squad was led by Island all-stars Reese Manns and Kamryn Allen.
“It’s just a strong group of athletes we have at the school at this time,” said Darren Reisig, athletic director at Claremont, and also coach of the Spartans girls’ basketball squad.
“Our junior boys’ and girls’ basketball teams both finished third on the Island. All four teams, junior to senior, were good. It goes in cycles.”
The Spartans defeated the Oak Bay Bays 85-81 in the Lower Island boys’ final late last week at Spectrum.
“It was like the old days. It was a great atmosphere with the gym packed,” said Reisig.
The Island boys’ player to watch this season is six-foot-nine Ethan Boag of the Spartans, committed to the University of Victoria Vikes.
Boag is supplemented by fellow Claremont forward Noah Helman and Spartans guard Spencer Simeao.
But the starry trio don’t tell all the story.
“This is one of the deepest teams we’ve had,” said Claremont boys’ team coach Brandon Dunlop.
“We have had games and tournaments where our seventh or eighth guys could have been named MVPs. We are deep and long [with good height].”
As a player, former Claremont and UVic Vikes star Dunlop was a guard who knew how to move the ball up court. That reflects in his team’s play.
“We push the ball well in transition,” said the Spartans bench boss.
Dunlop, however, knows Oak Bay and the host Nanaimo District Islanders will be more than worthy co-favourites for the Island title this week in the Harbour City.
“Nanaimo is going to have the advantage of their fans in their barn,” said Dunlop.
At stake are berths into the B.C. boys’ Quad-A championship tournament March 4-7 at the LEC.
OFF THE RIM: Royal Bay, led by Island MVP Maggie Fehr, and the Cowichan Thunderbirds were playing Tuesday to decide who would join Claremont in the provincial girls’ Quad-A tournament as the second Island team at the LEC.