The B.C. high school boys’ basketball championships are being held this week, starting today, and there will be no Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows teams for local hoops fans to cheer on.
It’s a sign that high school hoops needs a boost in the district, says longtime Maple Ridge Ramblers coach Ken Dockendorf.
His Ramblers were the last team eliminated, as they bowed out of the Fraser Valley tournament with losses to Surrey schools Southridge, 82-74, and L.A. Matheson, 70-60, last week.
“The community sports have taken over. The interest in high school sports is definitely down,” he said.
Kids are more likely to sign up for hockey, soccer or lacrosse in this district, he said.
They get involved in those club sports at the age of five, and those sports become their priorities.
Basketball is one of the last sports where students learn to play, right up to elite levels, in the school system. The provincial tournament this week will be well attended by college recruiters.
So, the school system needs to have good basketball coaches to teach kids how to play the game.
“There are very few teacher/coaches now – less and less,” he said. “You need coaches, first and foremost, and they need to be in the schools,” Dockendorf said.
He retired 10 years ago, but is in his 46th year of coaching high school ball.
Pitt Meadows coach Rich Goulet has a couple years on Dockendorf. Both have had provincial championship seasons.
They coached through the glory days of high school hoops in the district, when the Marauders met the Ramblers in the provincial championship in 1989.
The local basketball scene has had its ups and downs, but this is the worst shape it has ever been in, Dockendorf said.
He thinks he’s got a shot to get back to the provincial tournament in the next couple of years. He missed this year, but has a young team. Eight players will be returning, and they are skilled.
“Things are looking brighter for the next couple of years,” he said.
But Abbotsford has five high school teams playing at the 4A and 3A tournaments this week, and Surrey schools are also big on basketball, he said.
With strong coaching at all levels of the sport, those will be the Valley teams to beat in the future, he predicts.