Hamza Saqib is the captain and lone Grade 12 player on Semiahmoo Secondary’s senior boys basketball team this season. (Nick Greenizan photo)

Hamza Saqib is the captain and lone Grade 12 player on Semiahmoo Secondary’s senior boys basketball team this season. (Nick Greenizan photo)

Semiahmoo Totems’ lone senior player embraces leadership role

Hamza Saqib is ‘the backbone of our team’ said head coach Ed Lefurgy

When Hamza Saqib first joined Semiahmoo Secondary’s senior boys basketball team, he played something of a complementary role, as the Totems at the time were, like most teams, largely led by a slew of Grade 12 stars.

Saqib, after all, was one of the team’s youngest players, first getting a taste of the senior-level when he was only in Grade 10 – the year the Totems finished second in B.C. – and then playing a bigger role last season, highlighted by an all-star nod at the Surrey RCMP Basketball Classic.

But now that he’s at the top of the team’s seniority list, he finds himself in a position not faced by any of his hoops predecessors – as the only Grade 12 player on the team. He’s also one of just two returning players from last season, alongside Tajin Rai, who is in Grade 11 this year but played on the team last year as a junior-aged player, as Saqib did two seasons ago.

Whereas previous Totem teams have had at least a few senior players to share the leadership load, Saqib is shouldering more of it than perhaps he expected, with an assist or two from the team’s six Grade 11s, including Rai.

This year’s squad also includes one Grade 10 player and one in Grade 9, too.

Saqib admits he’s not exactly an outgoing, ‘rah-rah’-style person – Totems head coach Ed Lefurgy calls him “the quiet leader of our team” – but he has embraced the role nonetheless, as he leads the team to what he and Rai hope is another trip to the provincials.

“It’s definitely a different feeling for me this year, and there’s a bit more pressure on my shoulders to be a team leader now, but I just try to lead by example… and make sure we’re all doing the things we need to do – like giving 100 per cent in practice,” he told Peace Arch News last week, a few minutes after the conclusion of a brief team meeting about the team’s league game that evening against the Tamanawis Wildcats.

• READ ALSO: Totems coach reflects after ‘emotional’ week at B.C. high school hoops championships

• READ ALSO: Totems’ Mihaila signs with UFV Cascades

Saqib, the team’s captain this year – “He’s the backbone of our team,” Lefurgy said – added that he’s leaned on Totem captains past as he’s tried to lead the way this year.

“The seniors that were here last year, they did a great job… so I’m just trying to continue it. And two years ago, we had (future Canadian university players) Vlad (Mihaila) and Adam (Paige), and I learned from them, too,” Saqib said.

Lefurgy said Saqib’s rise from young role player to team leader hasn’t come as a great surprise to him, because he’s always jumped at the opportunity for more responsibility.

“He’s an awesome young man, and he’s been a huge member of our program since Grade 8,” the senior boys coach said. “We run all our plays through him, he guards the other team’s top players every game and does a great job of it. The other day he was guarding a seven-footer, sometimes it’s a six-foot-nine guy. He just does everything we ask of him.”

What helps the six-foot-three Saqib succeed against much larger players is his “exceptional” quickness, Lefurgy added.

He’s also a quick, and willing, learner, with Lefurgy calling him “a sponge.”

While Saqib is the sole graduating player on this year’s roster, the team won’t find itself in the same boat next fall, when the team will have half a dozen Grade 12s, including Rai, who said he’s already tried to take a leadership role on the team.

“This year, I think I’ve learned a lot from Hamza about how to lead, and I feel like I’ll be able to take some of that and translate it to next year when I’m in his position,” said Rai, whose older brother was on the senior Totems when he entered the school in Grade 8.

“The seniors kind of pass on the knowledge and then it just keeps the cycling going. The older guys here have always done that, and it just helps us all continue to get better.”



sports@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

B.C. High School Basketballbasketball

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

New United States Vice President Kamala Harris (left) and President Joe Biden (right) are sworn in at U.S. inauguration ceremonies Wednesday morning in Washington, D.C.. (Saul Loeb/Pool photos via AP)
Surrey Board of Trade highlights innovation, policy changes as new U.S. president sworn in

COVID-19, border re-opening among issues affecting city, SBOT says

A tow truck works to pull a dump truck from a ditch at 176 Street and 40 Avenue, following a two-vehicle incident Tuesday (Jan. 19) afternoon. (Aaron Hinks photo)
PHOTOS: Dump truck, car collide in South Surrey

Intersection – 176 Street and 40 Avenue – was site of 2019 fatal collision

Guildford Seniors Village, located in Surrey. (Image: Google Maps)
Fraser Health declares COVID-19 outbreaks over at 2 Surrey care homes

Outbreaks over at The Emerald at Elim Village, Guildford Seniors Village

The White Birch proposal for a six-storey rental-only building for 1485 Fir St. (Contributed rendering)
Majority voice support for 80-unit rental redevelopment in White Rock

Resident fearful of being priced out of the city, council told at public hearing

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

Inspection of bridge crossing on a B.C. forest service road. (B.C. Forest Practices Board)
B.C. falling behind in maintenance of forest service roads

Auditor finds nearly half of bridges overdue for repair

(Black Press Media files)
Woman steals bottles of wine after brandishing stun baton in New Westminster

Police say the female suspect was wearing a beige trench coat with fur lining

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Stand up paddleboarder Christie Jamieson is humbled to her knees as a pod of transient orcas put on a dramatic show on Jan. 19 in the Ucluelet Harbour. (Nora O’Malley photo)
UPDATED WITH VIDEO: Vancouver Island paddle boarder surrounded by pod of orcas

“My whole body is still shaking. I don’t even know what to do with this energy.”

Toronto’s Mass Vaccination Clinic is shown on Sunday January 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Canadian malls, conference centres, hotels offer up space for COVID vaccination centres

Commercial real estate association REALPAC said that a similar initiative was seeing success in the U.K.

Kamala Harris and Joe Biden are sworn into office on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP)
Joe Biden has been sworn in as the 46th president of the United States

About 25,000 National Guard members have been dispatched to Washington

A memorial for the fatal bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team at the intersection of Highways 35 and 335 near Tisdale, Tuesday, October 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards
‘End of the road:’ Truck driver in Humboldt Broncos crash awaits deportation decision

Sidhu was sentenced almost two years ago to eight years after pleading guilty to dangerous driving

Cumberland photographer Sara Kemper recently took the top spot in a Canadian Geographic photography contest. Photo by Sara Kemper
B.C. photographer takes top Canadian Geographic photo prize

Sara Kemper shows what home means to her in Comox Valley photo

Most Read