Elphinstone Secondary School is celebrating another North Shore championship after the bantam boys beat Hands-worth 44-33 on Feb. 13 in Gibsons.
The Cougars went undefeated with an 8-0 record in league play and two playoff wins. They lost a few games to Kitsilano and Langley, both higher ranked teams, but overall head coach Peter Beyser said he was very pleased with the whole season.
"It was a good year. I really enjoyed all the characters on the team," said Beyser. "In the end we had 14 guys who were really dedicated and committed. We had probably 25 practices and drop-ins early in the year, so the boys worked really hard all year long and it paid off."
The championship game was a lot closer than the final score indicated, with the Royals giving the Cougars all they could handle.
"At one point the lead was only two," Beyser said. "There was a good vibe in the gym - a lot of parents and students, and Handsworth had a lot of parents on hand, so that made it exciting."
Elphi has had a nice run of success lately at the boys' level with the juvenile and junior boys now competing at the senior level, and now this group of players who will hopefully continue to grow as a unit.
"I think every year the success happens for different reasons," Beyser said. "The senior boys have been together since elementary school and they have some dedicated players, coaches and parents there. I think for the group we had this year, there was just a lot of good, natural athletes. They haven't had a lot of basketball experience, and they were a green group, but again good athletes, and I think they have a bright future if they stay together."
The Cougars are still alive in the North Shore playoffs and have a shot at the league title.
On Wednesday night, a clutch three-pointer from Wei Lau sealed a 73-69 win over Howe Sound to advance the Cougars to the championship final Thursday night (past Coast Reporter's deadline) against Collingwood.
Because the playoffs are a double-knockout, Elphi needs to beat Collingwood twice with another game slated for this Friday night if Elphi won Thursday.
Elphi started strong last week, playing possibly its two best games of the year in dismantling Windsor 59-44 on Feb. 14 and Howe Sound 86-48 on Feb. 15.
On Monday, Elphi lost 74-56 to Collingwood, sending Colling-wood to the final and setting up the must-win game against Howe Sound.
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