Wolf hoopsters ready to howl

Preview of the Grand Forks Secondary senior boys basketball team.

Travis Van Camp (with ball) looks to pass the ball to Isiah McDonald (top left with blue piney) as the Grand Forks Wolves senior boys team practices on Thursday. Guarding Van Camp is teammate Grayson Giannikos.

What the Grand Forks senior boys basketball team lacks in numbers, it more than makes up for in intensity and commitment.With only two returning players, and eight players in total, the Wolves need a full commitment from every player and so far after a month of open gyms, the team looks pretty good.“It’s hard to tell so far,” said Michael Wirischagin, who returns as head coach of the Wolves. “We have eight players, which is our bare minimum. We only have two returning players from last year. We also have two (more) grade 12s; one that didn’t play last year and one that played part of last year. So only two of them are familiar with the system we ran last year. We’re running the same system this year. So we’re in a position of pretty much starting from scratch.”With the Wolves having only had real practices for a week now, Wirischagin said the team is showing a great deal of promise.
“They’re showing good basketball IQ,” he said. “They’re reading situations a lot better than I thought they would. I was surprised at how sound they were defensively considering some of them are new and some haven’t played in a few years.”Wirischagin said it’s a good core of players that pushes each other making sure everyone always comes to practice.“They know full well that if one of them drops off, the program drops off,” he said. “So if one of them isn’t feeling up to coming to practice for one day, the others are going to push them to make sure they get to practice. They’re a very dedicated group that wants to do well.”Grand Forks senior boys have been re-classified as single A this year. Which means they will play against smaller schools such as Salmo and Mount Sentinel from Slocan.“We’ll have to go through different teams to get to provincials instead of the usual Nelson,” said Wirischagin.Both returning players, Isiah McDonald and Maxwell Nicholson, agree that the team is committed and works hard.“We all have to stay in shape and work hard, even when we’re not on the court,” said McDonald. “A lot of guys are more committed than last year. Everybody’s been coming out to practice.”McDonald said the team is started well together and everyone’s looking forward to the start of the season.“It’s our first year in single A so we don’t really know what to expect,” he said. “We want to work hard and hope for the best.”“My goal is to make it to provincials,” added Nicholson. “I think as a team we definitely have the strength and capacity to do that.” The Wolves begin the season Dec. 6 and 7 with a four-team tournament in Armstrong at Pleasant Valley Secondary School.Wolf TracksBoth Maxwell Nicholson and Isiah McDonald’s talents are not limited to the basketball court.Nicholson is also known as Max the Cupcake Kid. He has been making and selling confectionary delights as Alaythia Cakes around the area for several years now.He recently won the Youth Entrepreneur award at the Small Business and Community Awards show.Before that, he finished first at Discover Trades BC’s Show Us Your Skills competition.McDonald, meanwhile, is a budding baseball star. Last month, he traveled to Peoria, Arizona to participate in the invite-only Arizona Fall Classic showcase.The event is a major tournament that is scouted by virtually every major league baseball team as well as just about every major American university.McDonald, who plays centre field, got the invite while playing for the Kamloops Midget AAA River Dogs in the spring.

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