Saturday, March 15, 2014

Showtime for the Rainmakers In Langley!

For the Charles Hays Rainmakers, it all comes down to forty minutes of basketball.  One final game for a group that has seen a year of early morning practices, lengthy northern road trips and a few dips into the basketball hot bed of Vancouver along their way to their trip to Langley.

All of it preparation for this one game, that opportunity that many Rainmakers through the years have focused on from their very first practice and one which many, many never had the chance to play.

Championship Saturday on the biggest stage of the province's basketball scene.

The path to the Provincials took the Rainmakers through a Northwest season of regional challenges, exhibitions with Terrace, Smithers, Kitimat and Haida Gwaii, each game a measurement of where they were as each month flipped on the calendar.

Their two trips to Vancouver, offering up a further exam, that of the top flight competition of the Lower Mainland, a chance to step up their game, meet the challenge and learn from both the successes and the losses.

To get to Langley, the zones delivered up a long time Prince Rupert nemesis in Terrace's Caledonia, a team that Rainmakers past and present, Junior or Senior, know all to well.

Those games against the Kermodes, whether an exhibition match of the past, or like this year for a zone championship, offering the coaches Bishop as good a marker as to where their team was and just how far they might be able to go.

From their Championship weekend in Smithers a few weeks back, the Senior Boys took their next step this weeks berth in the AAA Provincial Tournament.

With the shift of the all high school championship tourneys to the Lower Mainland, this week marked the first trip for a Senior Boys' team to be part of this impressive Langley event. It is no doubt a showcase of basketball that few of the Charles Hay's players  probably could quite have visualized even a few weeks ago.

Yet from day one in Langley they remained focused on their goal of a banner, soaking up the atmosphere while still concentrating on the work at hand.

As always the first game of a short tournament is the hardest to settle in for, Wednesday's match with Fleetwood Park could very well have delivered a different destiny.  A failed foul shot, stray pass or a missed assignment on defence and it very well could have been the Surrey team heading to a final game.

The Rainmakers however, played their style of game to the final seconds of that opening round match. The trademark of a strong defence, holding off the Surrey team's attack, a one point victory moving the Prince Rupert team on to the next day with a growing sense of confidence.

Thursday brought a new challenger, another high seed and again there were a few rough patches Still, the Rainmakers held their ground, building to an impressive 71 to 51 victory over Vernon.

A win that served as the announcement for all, that the Northwest Zone champs were in the house and looking to make a name for the North Coast school that they represent.

Day three, the pivotal day for the Provincials.  It's the day where the final is now clearly within sight. Those still in the hunt suddenly come to realize just where they are on the tournament stage. The glare of the spotlight just a little bit brighter than that of just two days ago.

Friday brought the Rainmakers yet another high seed opponent, Courtenay's Mark Isfeld, the highly regarded Vancouver Island squad that had been ranked at number one for a good portion of the high school season.

As in games one and two, the Rainmakers stayed with their plan. The repetition of those many practices over the months suddenly reaping the reward. Some remarkable patience and a sense of calm, even when things took a turn the wrong way, all played a pivotal role as Charles Hays secured win number three.

A victory that sets the scene for a storyline that now stretches back to 1964 and another Rainmaker squad at Provincials.

For a new generation of Rainmaker players, their Championship Game and a chance for their own place in the history books would now be but a little over 24 hours away.

The strength through the tournament to this point for Charles Hays has been the ability of a starting five to work like clockwork, whether on the attack or defending their own back court.

Combined with a bench deep in strength, one with players more than able to slip in without a missing beat, the Rainmakers have quietly and quickly become one of the most talked about teams of the week in Langley.

And now Saturday has arrived, for some on this Rainmaker team it will be the last competitive game that they play with this collection of friends and team mates, their one final opportunity to make their mark on the provincial basketball scene.

In a season that has lasted for months, all that is left is but Forty minutes on the court with a championship within reach.

Time that for the 2014 Rainmakers will probably go by far too fast!

Minutes however that will last forever.

For Rainmaker fans of all generations, Charles Hays is hosting a viewing party at the school, with streaming video available on the Big Screen.

The party (and the game) starts at 6 PM.

You can review the results of the last three days, as well as our past items on the Rainmaker's journey  from our archive page.

From there you will also find links to a variety of stories on the tournament from the Lower Mainland and most importantly of all, a link to take you to the live streaming video feed for today's championship game can also be found on that anchor page.

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