They came together as young pups, and now they’re full-fledged Huskies.
That’s how head coach Jesse Hundal describes the players on North Delta Secondary’s senior boys basketball team, who are set to hit the court at the BC High School Basketball Championships for the first time in a decade.
After coming together in Grade 8, the team has stayed a unit both on and off the court, while Hundal and fellow coach Gary Sandhu’s intense and competitive coaching style has mentored and pushed the boys to success, creating a brotherhood mentality throughout the team.
“We’re very demanding on these guys, practices are hard, they’re fast paced and it’s sort of like a military unit,” Hundal said. “They’re just with each other all the time, and when you’re with each other all the time you get to know them outside the team and you build chemistry.”
“Things like chemistry and playing for each other sometimes give you the edge, and I think we have that,” Sandhu added.
That relationship is paying off as the team heads into its fourth consecutive provincial championships, the first coming as Grade 8s in 2015, then as juniors in 2016 and 2017, and now as they chase the school’s first senior boys title since 1990.
Playing as a team throughout their entire high school basketball careers (some players even longer) has forged an unbreakable bond among the players on the team that, for Grade 11 defensive guard Arun Atker, extends to hanging out outside of the school.
“Even outside of playing basketball, like on weekends maybe, we’re at each other’s houses, playing [the video game NBA 2K] or something. So we’re just building a bond between each other,” Atker said.
While on the court, Grade 12 small forward Armaan Johal said, this bond allows the group to play for each other and not let attitude get in the way.
“None of us play with an ego. We all know our roles and what everyone is capable of, there’s no fighting on our team when we’re playing and we all step up when we need to,” Johal said.
“We’re more like brothers now, we’re so close. This program has made us like a family.”
Though the team is making a long-awaited run at the senior boys title, their season has had substantial lows, losing program founder and B.C. basketball legend Stan Stewardson last October.
In spite of their loss, the team went 8-0 in league play and remained undefeated through the 2018 Fraser Valley AAA zone tournament.
The team is hoping to continue this momentum, in honor of Stewardson, as the fourth-seed Huskies kick off the 2018 provincial championships this Wednesday, March 6 against the 13th-seed Georges P. Vanier Secondary Towhees out of Courtney, B.C.
“We’ve had success and we’ve had heartaches, but I think the guys have learned their lesson. They’ve matured, they’ve understood the mental sides of winning a basketball game and we’ve had success,” Hundal said.