In 2006, the Duchess Park Condors celebrated the end of a long drought.
That March, the Condors brought their school its first senior boys basketball provincial championship banner in 26 years. At the double-A tournament in Kamloops, Duchess Park beat the Ladysmith 49ers 79-73 in the game for B.C. bragging rights.
The No. 2 seed had downed No. 1 and the prize from that victory still hangs in the Duchess Park gymnasium today.
This year's Condors would love to lay hands on a banner of their own. And they've got a realistic chance of accomplishing their goal.
The Condors are the top-rated team for the north central zone championship tournament, which started Thursday on their home floor. Provincially, the Duchess boys are listed at No. 8. That number may make them seem like a longshot for a B.C. title but they have been ranked as high as third this season. If that digit is a more accurate reflection of their potential, who's to say they couldn't soar to bronze, silver or even gold?
If high school athletics is anything, it's unpredictable. Get hot at the right time, and amazing things can happen.
And, at the moment, the Condors are close to the boiling point. Last week, they won their second consecutive city championship when they jumped out to a big lead and held off the rival D.P. Todd Trojans for a 69-63 victory. The Trojans will be their most serious threat at zones, which will offer one berth to provincials, March 6-9 in Kamloops.
Depth and experience are the qualities that make the Condors dangerous. Typically, they are led by Grade 12 guards Montell Lindgren and Luke Holmes, and by Grade 12 forwards Eric Kidwell and Nathanial Pawluk. Lindgren, in particular, is as dynamic as anybody in the province and has had university coaches drooling for a few seasons now. Chances are, he'll be wearing the colours of the UNBC Timberwolves next fall.
In the B.C. rankings right now, the Holy Cross Crusaders of Surrey hold the top spot and are followed in order by the St. Michaels University School Blue Jags of Victoria and Brentwood College of Mill Bay.
The fact St. Michaels sits at No. 2 is significant when it comes to the hopes of Duchess Park. At last year's provincials, the Condors beat the Blue Jags 77-70 in overtime in their final game and placed eighth out of 16 teams. With Lindgren, Holmes and company back in uniform for one more crack at a title, it stands to reason that they can give the Jags a good go.
Other teams currently ahead of the Condors on the provincial list are Lambrick Park of Victoria, R.C. Palmer of Richmond, Kelowna Christian and Wellington of Nanaimo.
The 2006 Condors -- led by provincial MVP Nathan Yu and by people like Matt Foster, Cam Wharram, Kyum Shogren and Paul Burkholder -- pulled off an upset to win a B.C. championship. The present-day Condors would have to engineer some bigger shockers. But really, they can play with no pressure on them whatsoever and that's a nice position in which to be.
The first task for the Condors is to get through zones.
At that point, the fun could just be beginning.