The Mount Baker Wild senior boys basketball team may be halfway through their season, but head coach Shaun Penner is seeing some improvement.
The squad has played in four Alberta-based tournaments so far since the season began in December, and while the team hasn’t had a lot of success, they’ve competed hard, said Penner.
“It’s been tough, we’ve been to some really good tournaments. Three out of the four tournaments were AAAA top tier tournaments and not to say we were out of our league, but it’s tough when you have that kind of competition,” Penner said. “All I’m really looking for from the guys, is I just want to see some compete, some fire, some passion and some intensity—not to lay down and die. That helps us grow.”
Penner is taking over the reins as the senior boys head coach after two seasons of leading the junior boys team. Penner is a Mount Baker graduate who played high school ball and went on to play a season at college level with Lakeland College in Lloydminster, SK.
Penner is running an eight-man squad after weeding down from an original roster of 12. Though the results may no be there in terms of wins, Penner likes the fact that his boys are committed and dedicated to improving themselves.
“The guys out there right now, they deserve to play and they deserve to have the opportunity to play,” said Penner. “Whether we win or lose, they’ve earned the right.
“But with that, they need to take the opportunity and grow off it and they can’t get ahead of themselves thinking they’re going to play regardless.”
“The willingness to learn, that’s the biggest thing we want this year, is the willingness to build and to get better.”
Penner wants to improve his team’s defence and basketball IQ, which will come with more practice and game time experience.
Offensively, his team is led by Andrew Lamb, a Grade 12 athlete hoping to make the jump to college ball next year.
Lamb stepped up to the senior team three years ago when he was in Grade 10 and got noticed by some colleges last year that were scouting his teammates Scott Watmough and James Stechley.
“He’s got plenty of recognition, he just has to keep up the hard work and dedication,” said Penner.
For his part, Lamb doesn’t really have a dream school in mind, as long as he gets the chance to take his game beyond high school.
“I love playing. I love it. I’ll do whatever I can, dribble, pass shoot,” said Lamb. “I’m in the morning shooting and practicing. When I’m on the floor, I leave everything out there.”
The team plays in mostly Albertan tournaments to cut down on travel costs, but will participate in B.C. provincials down in Langley in mid-March.
Because none of the Lower Mainland teams will have faced his boys, Penner hopes to pull off a few upsets.
“I’m hoping when we get out there, we can at least make some noise and surprise some people because we haven’t played any B.C. teams yet,” Penner said. “B.C. teams have no idea what’s coming when we get there.”