“This is bigger than the school, it’s the whole community,” said Salmo Secondary School principal Jon Francis.
Francis is referring to the upswell of local support from the entire Village of Salmo and rural areas for the school’s junior boys’ basketball team, the Falcons. The team is heading to the 2022 Junior Boys Provincial Basketball Invitational Tournament between Feb. 26 and March 1 in Langley.
Their coach, Salmo Secondary teacher Shelby Anderson, is beyond proud of how well his team has played and the character each boy has demonstrated on and off the court.
“Over the past ten years I have coached a number of senior varsity and junior varsity teams, and I can honestly say that the commitment, passion, and talent on this team is of the highest order,” said Anderson.
“The guys have played every game this season embodying the three Rs of Falcons basketball: Respect, Resilience, and the Right way. I could not be more proud of their accomplishments,”
The team is in its first year together and competes at the 1A Boys level yet has lost only one game all season while playing more advanced teams from the AA and AAA levels across School District No. 8.
Despite their success, it has been a tough two years for the young players who have tried to keep their skills sharp while COVID-19 restrictions prevented them from playing any organized sports and tournaments only returned to schools on Feb. 3.
“Not having a season was hard but my friends and I would go play basketball every lunch and dream about bringing Salmo a great basketball team,” said Troy Isaacs, who plays guard and was named BC Player of the Week in January. “Going into Grade 9, I told my whole family that my goal was to bring Salmo to provincials,”
Isaac’s teammates were equally determined to make it to provincials.
“I think I’ve learned and grew a lot this year as a person and teammate,” said guard Ben Mobbs. “I’m really happy about how we made it so far and I hope we continue improving. Obviously, I hope we win the tournament, but I also just want to get the experience of going there and playing. I hope we learn from it so we can grow further.”
The Falcons are a minority among high school basketball teams because their players are from a small, rural high school where every student who comes out to play is on the team.
There are no tryouts, and that inclusive approach results in players knowing they’re each needed and have to show up physically, psychologically and emotionally for the group to be successful.
“This season and qualifying for the Provincials has been a great bonding experience for me and the team as a whole,” said Leiland Greer, who plays forward. “Personally, at provincials I hope to grow my own game and the team’s game and use this as a learning opportunity to try to win while playing our game,
Playing their own game has worked for the Falcons all season, and they will bring their cohesive team play and determination to Langley this weekend, with an entire community and school district cheering them on.