The senior boys’ Eagles will kick off their season with a tournament in Calgary this weekend. From left: Kiran Gosal

GSS Eagles boys’ basketball team shooting higher this season

The Eagles will be in Calgary this week to kick off what they hope will be another successful season.

The Golden Secondary senior boys’ basketball team is coming off a year that saw them win the Kootenay Zone tournament before getting bounced early from the provincials. The goal this year for the Eagles? Simple. To take things one step further.

“I feel like we can win provincials this year,” said Grade 12 Neal Randhawa.

It’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility for a team that lost just two roster players from a year ago and includes returning stars Randhawa and Saje Gosal.

Both players, who are going into their final year at GSS, spent much of their off-season honing their skills in a highly regarded summer league in Calgary. That experience should only help the pair, and the team, continue to improve this year.

“We’ve always been an underdog team and this year, we’ve experienced (provincials) and we’re bringing back basically our whole team,” Saje Gosal said. “Making that next step forward from being a dominant team in the Kootenays to being a confident team that’s capable of going all the way (at provincials) is something that I think we’ve looked at as a team and it’s where we have our sights set.”

A season ago, the Eagles played an up-tempo offence that often had their opponents reeling. While head coach Kindy Gosal doesn’t expect a major shift in philosophy, there are certain changes he plans to implement in order to make the team a more well-rounded squad.

“We are changing a bit of what we do as we mature as a team and kids are able to understand systems a little better, but I don’t think you’ll see a lot of differences in terms of how we play on the court,” he said.

Added to the fold this year are two players at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of their age, with Grade 9 John Oszust joining Grade 12 Vikram Sidhu as the team’s two newcomers. Gone from the mix are Rahul Summan and Riel Belanger, the former having graduated and the latter having moved away from Golden.

The extra year of experience will put added pressure on returning Grade 11s such as Kiran Gosal and Meva Dhami, as well as Grade 12 Josh Hiraoka.

Gage Chernoff, who only started playing basketball last season, should see an increased role as well. In practice, the centre has already demonstrated he might be ready to take the next step.

“He’s shown flashes of being a serious big man this year,” Saje Gosal said. “Sometimes it just looks like he’s going to be ridiculous.”

It’ll be a busy schedule for the team leading up to the Kootenay Zone Championships and a potential berth in the provincials. The Eagles’ season will get underway this weekend in Calgary where they will battle some of Alberta’s top teams at Father Lacombe Secondary. The rest of their tournament schedule will include stops in Surrey, Kamloops and Medicine Hat, before concluding with the Kootenay Zones in Invermere and (should they win) the provincials in Langley.