PORT McNEILL—In a small, close-knit community like North Vancouver Island, there are very few well-kept secrets.
But the North Island Secondary School boys basketball team sprung one of them on Port Hardy this month while posting a pair of exhibition wins over the Whalers.
Juan Camacho, a Rotary Club exchange student from Ecuador, poured in 25 points and wreaked havoc with his defence last Wednesday as NISS coasted to a 54-10 win over PHSS, its second lopsided victory in as many weeks.
Forward Aidan Horgan, a returning player, added 18 points and six rebounds for the Norsemen.
“It helped that we’ve got two point guards,” said Casey Mork, head coach at the Port McNeill school. “Brandon Pelletier triggers everything, and we’ve got an exchange student who makes all the difference.”
Camacho has obviously played the game for some time, while the two North Island schools did not even have active basketball programs as recently as two years ago.
Anticipating the action in the middle of the NISS defensive press, Camacho repeatedly darted in for steals and raced downcourt for easy layups or passes to teammates for open shots. On a couple of occasions he even dealt no-look, behind-the-back passes and failed to register a big assist tally when teammates missed shots.
That was rarely a problem for Horgan, a second-year player who Mork said has taken big strides as an inside-outside threat for the Norsemen.
“One of the biggest improvements on the team from last year is Aidan,” said Mork. “I’m really impressed with how he’s playing.”
While the visiting PHSS players exhibited flashes of individual skill, they were simply overwhelmed by the Norsemen’s swarming defence. It probably did not help that the Whalers traveled with just seven players. And one of their best ball-handlers, Denine Reid — the only girl on the court — hit her head hard on the floor while scrapping with Camacho for the ball and sat for a substantial stretch of the game.
“Most of our guys are only playing their second game,” said Aidan O’Toole, who is in his second season as a volunteer co-coach of the PHSS team. “They’re still learning the game.”
On the positive side, the Whalers did dominate the boards, winning the rebound battle 35-19. But they gave back many of those possessions in turnovers, suffering 40 giveaways in the key stat in the game.
Pelletier had six points, including a three-pointer, for NISS, while Clifford Glendale scored four points and Drake Barron had two.
Liam Knutson scored four points to lead PHSS, and Quinton Wamiss, Steven Keamo and Jared Inglis each had two.