The Kwalikum Secondary School senior boys basketball struggled to find its way out of first gear in the early stages of Tuesday’s season-opening exhibition against visiting Nanaimo Christian School. But once the Kondors hit top speed, they fired on all cylinders while racing to a 72-27 victory over the Trail Blazers.
Kevin Sudyko scored 14 points and Drey Dixon added 13 in a balanced scoring effort as the swarming KSS defence forced 37 turnovers and turned the second half into a one-sided drag race against the young NCS squad.
“That’s what we tell the guys, that we want to take their legs out in the second half,” Kwalikum coach Dave Frampton said. “And I think their legs went a little bit.”
The Kondors led just 8-5 after one period and were clinging to a 22-18 lead in the final minute of the first half. But Keito Akiyama hit a three-point shot 31 seconds before the half and Dixon followed a steal with another three with seven seconds to go to stake the Kondors to a 28-18 bulge at the break.
That momentum never slowed in a decisive third quarter, in which KSS outscored the visitors 21-1 while collecting 10 of their 21 steals for the game.
From the late second quarter to the first minute of the fourth, the Kondors outscored NCS 29-1 in a span of 12 minutes of play.
“Our defence triggers all our offence, because we get out and run,” said Dixon, a Grade 12 guard. “Because we’re small. We want to pressure on defence, and run them out.”
Frampton promised before the season began that his undersized team, which employs a four-guard offence, would run a lot this season — “We have to,” he said.
But despite setting the tone early by forcing 11 first-quarter turnovers, the Kondors struggled to turn that into production at the offensive end. The low-scoring opening period was marked by the Trail Blazers commanding the boards on missed KSS shots, countered by the Kondors preventing NCS from setting up an attack.
“There was a real lid on the hoop in the first half,” said Frampton. “Then we started making some shots and started being more patient with the ball. We want to run, but make better decisions on the run. We were forcing a lot of shots in the first half.
“I think in the second half what went right is the nerves went away.”
At the same time, the young Trail Blazers were succumbing to the nerves generated by the trapping, pressing defence of the Kondors.
Ben Sijpheer, a 6-foot Grade 12 guard, scored a team-high 14 points and collected six rebounds, but his father, NCS coach James Sijpheer, said his squad just didn’t have the experience to deal with the Kondors in the pre-season opener.
“We’re a really young team,” James Sijpheer said. “We’ve got a lot of Grade 10s, so for the bulk of this team it’s their first time playing at the senior level. I think they kept pace in the first quarter, then that Grade 12 to Grade 10 mentality and hustle and intensity that comes with experience and age definitely took over for Kwalikum.”
Sudyko, a Grade 12 guard, shared team-high honours with seven rebounds (matching teammate Brennan Volk) and a team-high five steals. Anthony Crowther and Akiyama each scored eight points and Arne Olefs and Volks scored six each as 11 of the 12 Kondors players reached the scoresheet.
Alex Bloedern, a 6-5 post, hauled down a game-high 12 rebounds for the Trail Blazers, but the visitors’ early rebound advantage was wiped out in the one-sided second half, and KSS finished with a 48-41 rebounding advantage.
Kwalikum’s senior boys will play this weekend in the Highland Secondary tournament in Courtenay, then return home to kick off the regular season with a 7 p.m. game Tuesday against Ladysmith.
Above: Kwalikum Secondary School guard Kevin Sudyko (10) takes the low road on a baseline drive past Nanaimo Christian’s Alex Bloedern during senior boys baskeball action Tuesday at KSS. — Image credit: J.R. Rardon/PQB NEWS