Bears start defence today
BEC hosts Coal Bowl this week
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.”
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.