The G.W. Graham Grizzlies are once again projected to be one of the best in B.C. high school boys basketball.
The first rankings for the 2021-22 season are out.
The defending provincial champions check in at No. 5 among AAA schools, and No. 1 in the eastern Fraser Valley. The four teams ahead of them are Vancouver’s St. Patrick’s Celtics, Surrey’s Elgin Park Orcas, Prince George’s Duchess Park Condors and Kelowna’s Okanagan Mission Huskies.
The Grizzlies beat Duchess Park to claim the AAA title in the spring of 2020, and this year’s team includes 24 players ready to defend the crown. In a sport that allows five on the court at any one time, playing time will be hard to come by, but head coach Jake Mouritzen said everyone has been working hard for months in the weight room and on the court, and the program is about more than playing minutes.
“While we lose size in the post with the graduation of Zach and Matthias Klim from our championship team, we become much longer and agile at all five positions,” Mouritzen said. “We are three and four players deep at every position, and once the football season ends we are excited to bring our full squad together for the first few big weeks of the season.
“The team will be led by Brody Janzen, Sam Goerzen, Bardia Shokui and Sam Mannes who were all on the bench for our 2019 championship run.”
Another Chilliwack team is also provincially ranked.
Unity Christian is the No. 7 team on the single-A list. Like the Grizzlies, the Flames are also defending B.C. champs, having vanquished Chilliwack rival Highroad Academy in the March 2020 title game.
Teams listed ahead of them as the 2021-22 season begins are the top-ranked Fernie Falcons, Langley’s Credo Christian Kodiaks, Victoria’s Glenlyon Norfolk Gryphons, the Barriere Cougars and Vancouver’s King David Lions and St. John’s Eagles.
The season was due to begin Monday (Nov. 29), but has been pushed back to Dec. 1 by B.C. High School Sports, which cited the need for a large number of teams to travel with flooding-caused fuel shortages still a thing.