It’s the same old McNair Marlins just minus the winning clip we have grown used to.
After an impressive run that yielded a pair of provincial tournament berths and a runner-up at the city championships over the last four seasons, the senior boys basketball team has taken a step back with lower expectations. The only question is: How do it take so long?
For a number of years, McNair’s enrollment numbers have made them eligible to play at the 2A level. However, they have looked right at home among the top 3A teams in the province thanks to the excellent work of coaches Ranj Sangra and Jessy Dhillon.
“The pool we have to pick from isn’t very deep and it is a numbers game in the end,” said Dhillon, who happens volunteer even more of his time as coordinator for the Richmond Youth Basketball League (RYBL).
“It is what it is. Every school goes through it’s ebbs and flows. We’ve been fortunate to have some good multi-sport athletes too. Like how soccer players see the court really well and we don’t have any this year.”
That doesn’t McNair coaches and players have eased off their commitment level this season.
There are early morning strength sessions and the gym is always open for shooting year round, including the summer.
It adds up to the Marlins continuing to play their uptempo and full court pressure game with a line-up that is not shy to launch three-pointers.
That was evident in Tuesday’s 100-70 win over Burnett that evened McNair’s league record at 2-2. The Marlins connected on 12 shots beyond the arc — led by the efforts of 6-foot-3 Grade 11 Roman Nahal with six of them that was part of a game-high 27 points.
They was coming off a close 75-72 loss to a much-improved Boyd team one night earlier.
The Marlins had some catching up to do with their league schedule thanks to a 10-day trip to Hawaii in December. It was the team’s second time in Oahu in three years. Last year it was a trip to Southern California.
“We came out kind of flat to start the year but it was good for the boys to bond on a trip like that. It’s something we start planning soon after the season ends,” continued Dhillon.
“I’m really impressed with what Boyd is doing. It’s just good to see the teams getting (competitively)closer in Richmond.”
If there was ever a time for the Marlins to play in 2A, next season might make the most sense.
That’s when zone restructuring by BC School Sports will see Richmond come together with schools from Surrey and Delta for provincial qualifying. Dhillon would like to get a better idea how the new landscape will look before any decisions are made.
“We haven’t sat down and talked about it yet. We usually do it every two years. We will wait until this season is over and take a look at it. It’s going to be weird not being in the Lower Mainlands. You never know what they are going to do with the (tiering) numbers either.”