Skip to content

Correlieu’s Jr. Boys basketball team netted Zone victory for Quesnel

Coyotes got to represent the region at the BC Jr. Boys provincials
Keith Jackson’s team of Correlieu Secondary School Jr. Boys basketball players won the North-Central Zone championship and represented the region at the provincial tournament. (Photo submitted)

The end result was not what they were hoping for, but the path to the provincials was beyond expectation.

Correlieu Secondary School’s (CSS) Junior Boys basketball team defied predictions and even perhaps surpassed their own early assessments to win the Zone championships and earn a berth in the 2023 provincial basketball championship held this past week at the Langley Events Centre. It is an 80-game mega-tournament featuring 32 teams who all had to win their way in.

To crack the provincials, Correlieu first had to upset some substantial teams at the regional level. The North-Central Zone tournament was held on home court and pitted them against Nechako Valley from Vanderhoof, then Prince George Secondary School and finally top-ranked DP Todd Secondary from Prince George. It was a clean sweep for the Quesnel team.

Three Coyotes stood out to the officials, with Josh Pontius named the tournament MVP and teammates Gavin Paterson and Hunter Jones named to the 1st and 2nd all-star teams, respectively.

The trophy broke a streak of coming up short that has lasted more than a decade.

“It has been awhile,” confirmed Correlieu principal Marissa Knauf, a graduate of CSS and herself a former team captain of the Coyotes before playing college basketball. She likes what she’s seeing from coach Keith Jackson’s results.

“We used to have a really strong legacy of basketball here, both boys and girls,” Knauf said. “We had coaches who coached for years and years and years, and when you have a program established, it really does help. I think with the Grade 10 boys, they have gone through a bit of a program with coaches through their junior school that has really helped with their development, with Cyril Tobin and Dwayne Sales. Then they came here and we have a young coach here (Jackson), and he knows his stuff, and he’s done a really good job of connecting with those boys. They listen to him, and they are disciplined. And in my opinion, without discipline you have nothing. In team sports like basketball, you just absolutely need to have that. It’s made a really big difference with this group of boys, who have some talent.”

The discipline Knauf is talking about doesn’t refer to punishment, it means self-motivation to establish the habits of winning: investing mentally in preparation, investing physically in the routines of development, eating and sleeping well, making healthy choices on and off the field of play, and adhering to coaches’ guidance.

They needed it. Two of their best players, rising with them through the younger years, went to different schools this year. On paper, it made them a weaker team. The remaining players applied that discipline to erase that setback and rewrite that paper their outcomes were hypothetically written on.

“They are pretty excited,” said Knauf, referring to the supporters of the team. “I know there are several families that are travelling down with the team. Coming out of COVID, I think it’s a great opportunity to get back to being a part of something. Able to be there to support their kids, parents are starting to get back to being involved, and that’s really helped.”

Sports is a constant building process, especially at the Junior age bracket. This Coyotes team has battled through early adversity, battled through underdog characterization, and now also battled setback on the court. In their two provincial qualifyer-round games they lost 72-39 to Westsyde Secondary from Kamloops and 75-46 to Windsor Secondary from North Vancouver.

But they know how it feels to win. They know what it takes to take a Zone tournament. In the years ahead, combined with the lessons of the losses, that will be worth gold in more than just basketball.

Read more: Correlieu senior boys basketball team takes second in home tournament

Read more: Quesnel’s Correlieu Secondary School hosts five team regional girl’s b-ball tourney

Frank Peebles

About the Author: Frank Peebles

I started my career with Black Press Media fresh out of BCIT in 1994, as part of the startup of the Prince George Free Press, then editor of the Lakes District News.
Read more