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Thunderbirds seek return trip to provincials as hoops season tips off

Semiahmoo Secondary’s senior boys team starts basketball season ranked No. 9 in B.C.
The Semiahmoo Thunderbirds played last weekend at Heritage Woods Secondary’s Kodiak Classic. (Shutterhoops Photography)

A lot has changed since the last time Semiahmoo Secondary’s senior boys basketball hit the court for a real, organized game.

For starters, the team’s name is new – the school switched from Totems to Thunderbirds at the start of the school year. As well, by virtue of the COVID-19 pandemic wiping out the 2020-‘21 season entirely, new faces dot the roster from top to bottom as players from the last team have now graduated.

That said, the new crop of players come with plenty of promise – the Thunderbirds rank No. 9 in B.C. 4A senior boys rankings to start the season.

“We’re starting ranked ninth, and hoping to move up and have a great year,” said Semiahmoo senior boys coach Ed Lefurgy.

“It’s our first year back after a little while so we’re looking to re-establish that (winning) tradition again. Basketball is a big deal at our school, and we’re really excited to just get back at it. The boys are chomping at the bit.”

Last weekend, Semiahmoo travelled to Port Moody for Heritage Woods Secondary’s Kodiak Klassic – which Lefurgy called “the best opening-week tournament in B.C. – and this week, they’ll hit their home court for two exhibition games.

On Tuesday (Dec. 7) at 6 p.m., they’ll host Aldergrove in their home-opener, and on Thursday, they’ll play visiting Oak Bay – another highly ranked school. That game tips off at 7:30 p.m.

“They’re a top-10 team, too, so that should be a good game,” Lefurgy said of the upcoming matchup against Oak Bay.

Though they’re expected to be one of the province’s top teams this season, the Thunderbirds will also be young, with only a handful of Grade 12 players; the majority of the roster is Grade 11 players, Lefurgy said, and also includes two Grade 10s – Torian Lee and Andre Juco.

Both Lee and Juco were key members of Semiahmoo’s Grade 8 team that won a provincial title in 2020 – experience that Lefurgy thinks will only help them as they make the leap right from that level to senior basketball.

“They were the MVP and first-team all-star at provincials that year, so they’re going to be ready to rock.”

Grade 12 Sam Snyder and Grade 11 Maddox Budiman will serve as co-captains, and Lefurgy said another key member of the team will be six-foot-seven Grade 11 forward Marcus Flores.

“We have a good mix of size and speed and athleticism. I’d say our strength is our speed and our competitiveness,” Lefurgy said.

The squad should be able to hit the court running, too – they’ve been training together since September, and Lefurgy said they already have 25 practices under their belts. And the goal, as always, is a return to the provincial championships – a tournament the Thunderbirds last took competed at in 2018, when they lost in the gold-medal game to Burnaby South.

This year’s tournament is scheduled for March 9-12 at the Langley Events Centre.

“Everything we do, we’re working towards March and focused on that,” Lefurgy said.

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