Semiahmoo Totems’ Grade 12s Matt Karnik

Semiahmoo Totems aiming for hoops rebirth

Senior boys basketball season tips off at South Surrey school tonight versus Chilliwack

High school hoops action is set to hit the hard court this week, as teams launch their 2013/14 seasons.

And nowhere is tip-off anticipated more than at Semiahmoo Secondary, where the school is primed for a basketball resurgence, after struggling in recent seasons.

“It’s a new beginning for us,” said Totems head coach Edward Lefurgy. “It’s exciting, and the boys are really enthusiastic. We had a good group of guys here. It’s going to be the best season this team has had in a long time.”

The team boasts a veteran-laden roster with seven Grade 12 players – last season, Semi had but two Grade 12s – led by point guard Cheonden Kyirong, Skylar Sheehan and Matt Karnik.

“I think we’re a little off the radar, as far as top teams go, but we’re an older team, we’re athletic, and I think we’ll be fun to watch,” Lefurgy said.

And while the team on the court may well be the most talented Semi squad in years, the court itself is improved, too.

The school has a new gym floor, new bleachers, and Lefurgy and a handful of student volunteers are working hard to create a fun, boisterous atmosphere for home games, the first of which comes tonight (Tuesday) when Lefurgy’s alma mater, Chilliwack Secondary, comes to town to take on the Totems. Tip-off is 7:30 p.m.

“We’re just trying to amp everything up a little bit,” Lefurgy said. “(This game) will be a good way to get the bugs out, get the legs going.”

The Totems won’t play their first league game until mid-December, when they’ll square off against some familiar foes in Earl Marriott and Elgin Park. The three-game series, dubbed Rivalry Week during its inaugural run last year, begins Dec. 18 and aims to create some hoops excitement in the area’s three public schools.

All three games are league contests, and will be played during school hours, so students can fill the gyms of each school.

At Earl Marriott, coach Christopher Finlay will steer an admittedly undersized but tenacious group that, like Semiahmoo, is looking to get back into the mix among Surrey’s top senior boys teams.

“We’re still in the rebuilding stages a little bit, but the building blocks are there,” Finlay said.

The team has a handful of returning seniors – “We have four or five guys, a good leadership group,” the coach said – and most importantly, depth is markedly improved from previous seasons.

Marriott has a 13-player roster heading into the season, which, Finlay said, “is a pretty big change from having just eight or nine guys last year.”

Finlay said the one thing his team lacks is size, which may put the team at a disadvantage against teams will big forwards.

“I think our biggest guy is about six-foot-three, but there’s nothing you can do about it. You can’t teach size,” he said, adding that the team will try to compensate for its lack of height with a quick, up-tempo game plan.

No senior squad for WRCA

The Semiahmoo Peninsula’s most successful senior boys hoops program – and among the best in the entire province – will not play this season, as White Rock Christian Academy has chosen not to court a team for the 2013/14 season.

Since the late-90s, WRCA has been among B.C.’s elite AAA teams, winning provincial titles in 1999, 2003 and 2005. They also placed second in 2008, 2010 and last year, when they lost in the provincial championship game to Langley’s Walnut Grove Gators.

This year there were not enough players to put a team together.

Head coach Dale Shury, who stepped in and took over coaching duties two seasons ago when John Dykstra abruptly quit, was also not planning to return behind the bench.

WRCA will still have junior and Grade 8 teams this season.

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