Basketball season may still be about a month away, but the Sardis secondary senior boys basketball team is already busy closing a hole in its game.
By the time they take on Robert Bateman in their first exhibition game of the season Nov. 26, the Falcons plan to log 50,000 three-point shots in practice.
With 27 days left, they have 37,000 shots to go. Coach Kyle Graves hopes the exercise will make the difference between the team's impressive eighth-place finish at the provincials last year and actually becoming the first Chilliwack team in history to bring home a B.C. boys basketball title.
"I believe our team has a very good chance to win provincials this year," Graves told the Times. "We have a lot of returning players that have worked really hard, and a lot of people have given us a lot of respect since our accomplishments last year."
The Falcons sit fifth in provincial preseason rankings by virtue of their strong finish last season and the fact that three of the team's strongest players (forwards Cam Servatius and Eric Rogers; and centre Hayden Lejeune) were in Grade 11 last year.
Not only are all three tall by high-school standards-Servatius is 6-3, Rogers 6-4 and Lejeune 6-7-they're also freakishly skilled.
"You don't usually see that in high school," Graves said. "Usually you either see tall and unskilled or skilled and short, so we're pretty fortunate."
One gap in the Falcons game last year, though, was three-pointers.
"Teams would pretty much let us shoot three pointers," Graves said. "They would go into a zone and clog the middle of the paint and take away Hayden's points and Eric's drives, so they'd let us have three-point shots," Graves said.
This year, the Falcons intend to make them pay.
Since September, players have been tracking their shots during open gym times on pieces of paper pasted on the gym wall.
"Lots of teams just shoot three-pointers, but they don't keep track. Our team's keeping track of every shot they take on their own," Graves said. "High school guys need some form of motivation, and it's kind of caught on. Guys see that some guy put up a hundred shots and they want to match that."
The pieces of paper on the gym wall have also create a bit of buzz around the upcoming basketball season.
With bigger schools like Sardis playing in the newly created quad-A tier this year, league play promises to by more competitive than ever with few gimmes.
"I don't have to go find many tough games because four of the top 10 teams are in our league," Graves said. "We'll play them twice. Chilliwack fans will have lots of chances to see lots of good games here at Sardis."
Besides Servatius, Rogers and Lejeune, the Falcons will also look to three other key seniors to get the job done: Grade 12 Scott Fitzsimmons, who was out much of last season with knee problems, will likely step in as starting point guard; shooter Grayden Northey is expected to knock down crucial threes and Evan Kellington will bring further athleticism to the forward spot.
Kellington's younger brother, Colin Kellington, a Grade 10 shooting guard who played on the senior team as a Grade 9 last year, may also end up playing a crucial role.
"He'll probably be a starter for this team if he keeps working hard," Graves said. "Not many teams will know about him and it'll be interesting to see how he develops."
Chilliwack basketball fans' first chance to see this year's Falcons will be Nov. 26 when they take on triple-A Robert Bateman at home.
In the meantime, the team is looking for community sponsors to help with the season's expenses.
"These boys are working hard and they've got a chance to really represent Chilliwack on a big stage," Graves said.
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