Speedy Taylor Martens (right) leads the Sardis senior girls into battle while Shawn MacMillan (left) plays a key role for the Falcon senior boys. ERIC J. WELSH/ THE PROGRESS

Falcons basketball soars as Sardis teams take flight

Both Sardis secondary school teams are looking to make noise in their Fraser Valley AAA leagues.

High school basketball season has started and will get rolling at full speed early in the new year.

Today’s preview looks at the boys’ and girls’ senior teams at Sardis secondary school.

SARDIS BOYS

Sardis coach Adam Smith calls Grade 11 forward Connor Dykstra “the poster boy for Falcon Tough.”

Dykstra brings relentless energy and non-stop hustle and those qualities will be essential as the 2017-18 Falcons fight through early-season growing pains. Sardis has seven seniors on the roster, but Smith says that’s misleading as many of them lack game-play experience.

That’s not the case with Grade 12 point guard Shawn MacMillan, who started every game in Grade 11 and figures to be a huge part of the Sardis attack. MacMillan is a deadly long-range shooter who drained 11 from beyond the arc in an early-season game.

Steven Landriault is also dangerous from distance, and the senior has the size to mix it up in the paint and pull down rebounds. Jeff Dekker is the biggest physical presence on the Falcons, a Grade 12 player who will be expected to dominate on the glass.

Riley Tieu (Grade 12) can be a difference maker if he consistently knocks down open shots, and Smith calls him a key player defensively. When he returns from injury, senior Greg Luesink will be another defensive stopper and an offensive option off the pick-and-roll.

If it’s true that ‘you get out of it what you put into it,’ then Tommy Janzen (Grade 12) will be an important Falcon by year’s end.

“He lives in the gym, not only on the court but in the weight room as well,” Smith noted. “When trying to develop a culture at Sardis, Tommy is the kind of player you want to have.”

Nate Fortnum is a first-year player as a senior, an athletic player who’s role should increase with experience.

Grade 11 players Raph Medina and Parnett Thiara team with Dykstra to form what Smith calls his ‘three-headed hustle monster.’

“Raph brings an energy with him to the defensive side of the ball that’s contagious, and everyone picks it up on the court when he’s out there,” Smith said. “Parn’s length on D causes trouble for opponents. That, along with his ability to be aggressive on O and take the ball to the rack should provide him with lots of minutes.”

Rome Romero (Grade 11) could win some games with his long-range shooting and holds his own defensively. Micah Causton (Grade 11) is big and raw, but he’s developing quickly at both ends of the floor and could be a huge contributor down the stretch. Mattias Vandrimmelen, Colby Coburn and Dylan Phillips come off the bench with a mix of defensive play and shooting.

“This year’s squad is very green in terms of game experience,” Smith said. “We will rely on hard work and defence this season to help lead us to the Fraser Valley playoffs.”

SARDIS GIRLS

Sardis senior girls’ coach Gina Graves enters the 2017-18 season minus two familiar faces, with Makenna Lejeune and Azalya Forstbauer gone to graduation.

But the bench boss says there’s plenty of talent on the roster and no reason why the Falcons can’t win their share of league games.

Senior Josi DeBruyn captains Sardis and plays point guard. A pure shooter and natural leader, Graves calls her “one of the most coachable players” she’s ever encountered.

DeBruyn teams with senior Taylor Martens on the outside. Lightning quick, Martens shoots the ball well and usually leads Sardis in steals.

Sophie Klassen (Grade 12) is a dual-threat, capable of knocking down shots from the outside and scoring from under the basket. Graves expects her to be a double-double machine all year long.

Gracyn Anderson and Megan Mulder will also mix it up in the paint.

“Gracyn brings passion and speed to the team,” Graves said. “She drives the ball well and finishes strong, and Megan is a true post player. I love watching her rebound and fight for position under the basket.”

Grade 12 players Olivia Nichol, Mackenzie Silbernagel and Shaila Weflen come off the bench with a mix of defensive play, speed, energy and shooting.

The youngest player on the roster, Abbe DeBruyn, is already making a name for herself. Only in Grade 10 but already in her second season with the senior squad, she shoots well, handles the ball well and doesn’t give an inch on defence.

Cailey Ayer (Grade 11) is a well rounder player who brings energy to the defensive end of the floor. Sydney Johnson and Grace MacIsaac are similar Grade 11 players who bring an impressive combination of speed and strength, while Nivana Point (Grade 11) works very hard and provides defensive energy.

“We have a good chance to do well this year,” Graves said. “The Fraser Valley East division is full of teams of equal abilities, so it will all depend on which team shows up ready to fight on any given day.

“I have high expectations for us to win some league games this year.”

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