BURNABY — Think about our province’s most durable high school basketball coaches and in many instances, their careers started when they themselves were still high schoolers, coaching the younger grades in the programs they were still an active part of as players.
It’s how a guy like BCHSBBA president and Langara College men’s coach Paul Eberhardt got his start way back in the early 1980s while still attending Vancouver’s Magee Secondary.
And it’s how a guy like 20-year-old Tyus Batiste is reaching the youth at his alma mater, Burnaby South Secondary, which opens Saturday at the Langley Events Centre as the defending champion and No. 6 seed at the 2018 B.C. junior boys basketball championships. Click here to see the full draw
“I have told everyone, since the day I finished playing basketball, that I enjoy this even more than playing,” says Batiste, who by the time he donned cap and gown and graduated from South in 2015 had already helped to coach this season’s current group of seniors for two seasons.
When the current Class of 2018 were eighth graders, it was an 11th grade Batiste who served as an assistant coach on a team which won the B.C. Grade 8 title.
Batiste coached the same group in his senior 2014-15 season when they were ninth graders and he hasn’t stopped since.
“He is not only the head coach of our junior boys team, but a mentor and leader to these student-athletes,” says Rebels proud athletic director Robbie Puni.
“It’s amazing how many parents, school administration and members of the basketball community have approached me to compliment Tyus on his coaching style,” continued Puni. “It’s laced with patience, positivity and a heavy emphasis on playing the game with utmost in respect. He has the boys playing hard and fast, and winning with grace and kindness.”
He’s also got them moving their feet and playing at a tempo that makes up for their lack of size.
“Our team is very small,” says Batiste, who coaches the Rebels with Rupi Dahia. “We love to run, run and run. That’s what makes us special.”
With virtually no carry over from last season’s B.C. junior championship team, Batiste and Dahia have put a winning imprint on a Rebels’ team which is seeded sixth in the tournament’s massive 32-team field, and which faces the No. 27 seed Duchess Park Condors of Prince George in its Saturday opener.
The height comes courtesy of 6-foot-4 Grade 10 Nikola Duvjnak, while Grade 9 sensation Justin Sunga, who checks in at 5-foot-7, leads the team in scoring (20-plus points) and also dishes about 10 assists per game.
Brothers Jareb (Grade 9) and Matthew Pineda (Grade 10) are also a big part of the rotation.
The Rebels were ranked No. 1 in the final junior boys poll of the season released earlier this month, but they lost to North Vancouver’s Handsworth Royals in the Vancouver-and-District final. Last season Burnaby South entered the junior provincials with a No. 8 seed but won the event, topping Sir Charles Tupper of Vancouver in the finals.
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