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Cowichan T-Birds a close second at Welcome Back Tournament

Kelsey finishes fourth, junior T-Birds give Ballenas a run for 5th/6th
Cow High’s Ethyn Williams-Crawford pushes past a Ballenas player during the first game of the Welcome Back Tournament last Friday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

The host Cowichan Secondary Thunderbirds finished second at their own Welcome Back Tournament, held last Friday and Saturday.

The T-Birds dominated round-robin play, beating Ballenas 80-38 on Friday morning and Stelly’s 66-51 that evening to advance to the tournament final against Spectrum, who went undefeated in the other pool. Spectrum defeated Cow High 70-63 in a close championship match.

In addition to Spectrum, the other pool included both the Frances Kelsey Secondary Breakers and Cowichan’s junior team, who filled in as a late replacement for Kwalikum. Kelsey defeated the junior T-Birds 57-43 in an early afternoon matchup, and both teams lost to Spectrum.

Kelsey went to the bronze-medal match, where they were beaten 65-41 by Stelly’s, and the junior T-Birds were edged 43-41 by Ballenas in the fifth/sixth game.

It was the first tournament of the season for the Breakers, who are still coming together.

“The team continues to improve, but starting has been slow with players involved with football and having missed playing the season last year,” head coach Mark Reed said. “We are just glad to be on the court and building toward playing our best basketball at the South Island playoffs in February.”

The senior T-Birds will be in action again this weekend at the Nanaimo Hardwood Challenge.

Frances Kelsey’s Ethan Maxwell gets past Cowichan junior player Nori Low during a game at Cow High’s Welcome Back Tournament last Friday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)