History was made earlier this month when Queen Margaret’s School played host to its first-ever senior boys basketball home game.
For most of the school’s 100-year history, the upper grades were for girls only. It began admitting boys to the secondary school in 2019, but didn’t field a senior boys basketball team until this year — in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, on Thursday, Dec. 9, the senior boys team played its first home game against visiting St. John’s Academy.
The match was a nail-biter, with the Royals prevailing by a single point. QMS hit a layup in the last 30 seconds to go ahead, then got a stop just as time expired.
While it was nice to come out on top, coaches Graeme Hyde-Lay and Jayson Williams aren’t focused on wins and losses this year.
“The success of the season won’t be measured on results, but on the development of the guys over the year and establishing our expectations for the next few years,” Hyde-Lay explained.
Prior to their home debut, the Royals played in a tournament in Victoria that included established teams like Oak Bay, Claremont and St. Michaels University School. QMS didn’t manage to win any games there, but the players learned a lot.
“It was a good experience for them to see the quality of basketball on the Island,” Hyde-Lay said.
Building a new program from scratch has been a good experience for the coaches, too.
“It’s been really, really exciting,” Hyde-Lay said. “We were super thrilled with how many guys were involved.”
After two years without organized sports, boys at the school were jumping at the opportunity to play, and the coaches had to make a number of cuts to get down to their 13-man roster, with some promising younger players going to the junior team. Only about three or four of the 13 had played any sort of organized basketball in the past, but the others have made big strides to catch up.
“There has been a lot of development quickly which is cool,” Hyde-Lay said.
This is Hyde-Lay’s first year at QMS, first teaching position and first year coaching senior boys basketball, but he has lots of experience working with teams at different levels, and played five years with the University of Victoria men’s team after winning a AA high school provincial championship with SMUS. Williams has a bit more coaching experience, including time at Shawnigan Lake School. They are both looking forward to seeing how this year plays out.
“It’s been a great start,” Hyde-Lay said. “We’re excited to finish it off after the break.”