Bears start de­fence to­day

BEC hosts Coal Bowl this week

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS - BY T.J. COLELLO tj­colello@cb­post.com

NEW WATER­FORD — For the first time ever, the Bre­ton Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre Bears can call them­selves de­fend­ing champs en­ter­ing the New Water­ford Coal Bowl Clas­sic.

It’s a fact that has taken the pres­sure off the Bears play­ers, says rookie head coach Jean Guy Deme­ter.

“Ev­ery year, it was al­ways ‘is this go­ing to be the year to win it?’... Now they can go out, play hard and not hear about the so­called Coal Bowl jinx any­more,” said Deme­ter, who’s taken the reins from Dar­nell Young this sea­son.

BEC be­gins their de­fence of the cov­eted ti­tle tonight when they chal­lenge the Dr. John Hugh Gil­lis Roy­als of Antigonish. The 29th edi­tion of the Fe­bru­ary hoops ex­trav­a­ganza will fea­ture 10 teams in two di­vi­sions vy­ing for the crown, with clubs com­ing as far as Bri­tish Columbia for the tour­na­ment.

Deme­ter said he has a young team, but has a good core from last sea­son to work with. Six play­ers — Kyle MacDon­ald, Colin La­rade and Tyler Bishop in Grade 12 and Jeremy Piovesan, Tyler Mathe­son and Cody Muise in Grade 11 — are back from last year’s cham­pi­onship team.

“ The kids are very ex­cited,” said Deme­ter. “ The guys who have been here be­fore are ex­cited to ex­pe­ri­ence it again and the new play­ers are even more ex­cited to ex­pe­ri­ence it for the first time.”

The Bears big­gest gun is MacDon­ald, last sea­son’s Coal Bowl and Cape Bre­ton High School Divi­sion 1 Boys Bas­ket­ball League MVP. He en­ters the tour­na­ment av­er­ag­ing 24.2 points per game in league play.

He’s been a mem­ber of the Bears since Grade 9 and will bring the ex­pe­ri­ence of four, Coal Bowl tour­na­ments to the ta­ble.

“It feels pretty good,” said the 19-yearold from New Water­ford, who hopes to pur­sue uni­ver­sity ball. “ This is my fourth one this year, so we’re hop­ing on winning it again. We’re go­ing to go in, the team’s go­ing to play hard.

“Usu­ally we play way bet­ter at Coal Bowl. We get the big crowds and it gets you pumped up to play the games.”

MacDon­ald said the past four years as a Bear have flown by and counts him­self lucky to play in four Coal Bowl tour­na­ments.

“Play­ing in it is one of the best times,” he said. “ The whole week, with all the teams and ev­ery­thing, it’s one of the best times you can have.”

The com­mu­nity has been get­ting up for the tour­na­ment as they do each year, said Deme­ter.

“It’s like New Water­ford and Bre­ton Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre’s win­ter fes­ti­val,” he said. “Ev­ery­body in the com­mu­nity is al­ways in­volved and I think it adds to the ex­cite­ment that we did win it last year.

“I think peo­ple are re­ally up­beat about that and they’re re­ally proud to say that the BEC Bears are the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons go­ing into the tour­na­ment.”

T.J. Colello - Cape Bre­ton Post

From left, grad­u­at­ing mem­bers of the Bre­ton Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre Bears Tyler Bishop, Kyle MacDon­ald and Colin La­rade will play in their fi­nal New Water­ford Coal Bowl tour­na­ment. The 29th edi­tion of the event gets un­der­way to­day at the BEC gym.

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