In a bittersweet ceremony last week, the Huskies unveiled North Delta Secondary’s first B.C. senior boys basketball championship banner in 29 years.
The team battled injuries all season long and the pressure of high expectations after coming third at last year’s tournament, before winning the 2019 3A tournament in a nail-biter of a game against the Vernon Panthers on March 9. The moment marked school’s fourth provincial boys basketball title and its first since 1990.
At a lunchtime ceremony on Friday, June 14, coaches and players gave brief speeches thanking everyone who supported the team, before paying homage to Huskies past and present with a video montage of recent and vintage provincial tournament highlights.
“This is not only the success of the 13 players and the four coaches sitting [here], this in everyone’s success. Everyone played a part,” head coach Jesse Hundal told the packed gymnasium.
“To our players, this day will forever be yours, and what you have done to inspire a generation of North Delta basketball players, and rekindle a relationship with all players who have played for this storied program, is nothing short of incredible. You have made your school, school district and community proud. Your story will forever be talked about for the history of this program, and I thank you for allowing me to be a part of this journey.”
|Brandon Bassi (front, centre) signs his official commitment to SFU alongside Huskies basketball coaches (from left) Gary Sandhu, Bill Edwards and Jesse Hundal on Feb. 13, 2018. (James Smith photo)|
The celebratory mood was tempered, however, by the recent loss of former captain Brandon Bassi, who was memorialized at the end of the video.
“Today’s a day that the entire North Delta boys basketball program has been waiting 29 years for. It’s a day when the colour blue is as important as the colours black and gold,” Hundal said, referring to the colour of the championship banner and the team’s jerseys, respectively.
“But it is a day with mixed emotions, as we celebrate a remarkable run by fine group of young men and we also honour one of our own who we all loved so much and who impacted not only the coaches on this team and the players, but the school and our community: our captain, Brandon Bassi.”
Bassi, 19, lead the team to last year’s bronze medal finish and later signed on to play NCAA soccer for Simon Fraser University. He was killed in a single-vehicle crash in Surrey on May 18.
“The greatness of our program is more than just titles and accomplishments, it is the people who helped make this program what it is today, people like our captain Brandon Bassi, whom we will never forget,” Hundal said. “His legacy still lives on, and will continue to live on in this gym.”
Hundal told the Reporter that Bassi’s passing hit the whole team hard.
“He was larger than life. As great as he was an athlete, he was an even better human being. People gravitated to him. He was a leader. He’s everything you want in a young man. He was strong, he was competitive, he was kind, but most importantly he was genuine. He was genuine in his actions and genuine in his interactions with people,” Hundal said.
“Brandon’s going to missed for a long time but, you know, we have to continue to keep his legacy alive and we’re going to do that here at North Delta [Secondary] and in the community.”
On June 1, the Bassi family launched a GoFundMe campaign with the hope of creating a fund “that will carry on Brandon’s dream of making a difference in the community.” As of Wednesday morning (June 19), the campaign has raised over $71,000 of its $100,000 goal.
“Our family is dealing with an unimaginable loss. As we remember the memories and moments that Brandon left behind, one stands out more than others; his desire to make a change in the community,” Derrick Bassi, Brandon’s older brother, wrote on Facebook.
“In this memory our family will be creating the Brandon Bassi Foundation. The primary goal of this foundation is to make a change for the better and to create a scholarship that will be awarded each year to a North Delta student. The remaining funds will be used to help the community and to make a change, as Brandon would have wanted.”