They stand as the early favourite to win the senior boys City Basketball League title.
The main reason is their experience.
With an 11-man roster featuring eight returning players, the Kelly Road Roadrunners’ best attribute may be the knowledge they gained as a result of their 2007-08 campaign.
That team participated in B.C. senior boys basketball triple-A provincials last March in Vancouver, where they finished winless with a 0-3 record. At the time, coach Brendan Harrop wasn’t hanging his head. He said their involvement in the competition helped build the team.
As the majority of the 2008-09 edition of the Roadrunners will be finishing high school in June, Harrop understands he can’t get away with using the term re-building this season.
Based on their results in a competition in Vanderhoof on the weekend, the Roadrunners are sending an early message that they plan a return trip to provincials, and they’re hoping to do more damage if they get there.
In a five-team tournament at Nechako Valley Secondary School on the weekend, Kelly Road cruised to a 3-0 record. In the championship game on Saturday, they hammered the PGSS Polars 95-57. They also knocked off Houston Christian 75-51 and downed the host Nechako Valley Vikings 84-50. The College Heights Cougars also took part in the Vanderhoof competition.
The team’s entire starting lineup is back on the court this season. The cream of the crop may be Grade 12 forward Kevan Madsen, who led the Roadrunners in Saturday’s final with 39 points. At six-foot-seven, he’s a rebounding threat, but he can also help keep the opposition off the scoreboard.
“He’s a tremendous defender,” Harrop said of Madsen. “I think first game (against Houston Christian) he might’ve got one foul called against him, second game (against Nechako Valley) maybe two and no fouls in the championship game. He plays very good positionally.”
Up front, Madsen is part of a forward group that carries height and experience. Their offence includes returning Grade 12 player Daniel Stark, who stands six-foot-three and rotates between guard and forward positions. Six-foot-two forward Blake Travers was also a member of the 2007-08 team.
“We’ve got an advantage this year definitely in the post,” Harrop said. “There’s really no one else in the city who can defend against that I don’t think.”
Three other starters from last season’s squad are back in the Kelly Road lineup Grade 12 guards Brett Warkentin and Kyle Van Mulligen, and Grade 11 guard Lincoln Pilcik. The two other returnees are Grade 12 guards Dillon Lechkobit and James Matosevic.
Rounding out the team’s roster are a trio of first-year players Grade 11 guard Cory Rollings, Grade 11 forward Ian Williams and Grade 12 forward Brett Reimer.
Harrop said his team’s patience on the court has also paid dividends. He said that other teams don’t run their offence as much and take low percentage shots.
“It can work if you’re shooting well that day, but on an off-day it can really hurt you,” he said. “We’ll take that open shot later on in the shot clock.”
This weekend the Roadrunners are participating in a senior boys competition in Chilliwack. They’re scheduled to host Caledonia of Terrace in an exhibition game on Tuesday, their last game before their Christmas break.