Belmont's 6-foot-4 Markus Modrivic (left) strains to out-reach Sir Charles Tupper's 6-foot-6 Mathew Dunkerley during B.C. junior boys Elite 8 clash Sunday at the LEC. Modrivic's 14 points led the Bulldogs to an upset 48-38 win over the No. 2 Tigers. (Varsity Letters photo by Howard Tsumura)
Feature High School Boys Basketball

Belmont’s underdog Bulldogs: How a ‘heaven-sent’ text message illuminated Cinderella’s journey to BC junior boys Final Four

LANGLEY — Who are the Belmont Bulldogs and where did they come from? 

Beyond the obvious, the fact that they are a Victoria high school, is that as a No. 23 seed, they play in a 4:30 p.m. Final Four clash today against Surrey’s No. 3 Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers here at the 2018 B.C. junior boys basketball championships.

The championship side of the 32-team draw, now in it’s third day, tips off at 3:30 p.m. when the No. 1 Vancouver College Fighting Irish tip off against the No. 5 St. George’s Saints.

No. 1, No. 3. No. 5 and …No. 23?

For the Bulldogs, such challenging hardcourt mountaineering doesn’t normally happen without a lot of figurative tumblers clicking into place, and when you ask its pony-tailed veteran head coach Curt Spaven about it all, you find that to be the truth.

“It’s a weird feeling as a coach and as a team,” admitted Spaven of the vein of confidence and chemistry plumbed by his charges over the past few weeks.

“Three weeks ago, we scored 23 points in a game in the (Victoria) city quarterfinals against SMUS (St. Michaels University School),” Spaven continued. 

“Yeah, we lost the game, but we held them to 39 points and normally when you do that, you win. We were really tight, and for us it was a real struggle just to get off the Island.”

Yet a breakthrough came when Spaven got a message from the mother of one his players, a message which ignited their current phoenix-like rise. It might as well have been heaven sent.

“She sent me a text, and when I read it, it changed my whole perspective,” says Spaven. “It just said ‘Thank God for this opportunity’ and that’s all.”

The text was received as Spaven was headed up-Island to face Brentwood College in a sudden-elimination game for Vancouver Island No. 4 and the zone’s final berth to the B.C. tournament.

The Bulldogs won the game, and afterwards Spaven didn’t forget the message, pondering it even more in the aftermath of the tragic high school shooting incident south of the border on Feb. 14.

“That was the win that got us to the B.C.’s,” he continued of his team, one he coaches with Aaron Williams. “The text, it has actually brought a tear to my eye knowing what happened at Parkland High School in Florida and everything else that is happening in the world.”


It can bring a lot of purpose to our everyday lives, and in the case of Belmont’s 11-player roster of Riley Merryweather, Cole Belton, Adrian Vicente, Jacon Unger, Joey Reaume, Robert Savien, Hunter Thomsen, Markus Modrivic, Dillan Moore, Jaiten Guray and Akshay Bhangria, it has put them in a place where playing for each other has produced unexpected results.

“Our biggest concern is playing a basketball game?” Spaven asked. “I shared this my boys. They are playing basketball on this team with their best friends. We’ve been together four or five years now. So how is their any stress or anxiety around any of that?”

As simple as reading a text about being thankful for our opportunities?

In a universal sense, can we get out of bed each morning and ask for anything more from the day?

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