‘We wanted to start early this year so we did have this initial week to help get the word out’
Basketball Cape Breton ready for new season.
Basketball Cape Breton started this week at the Centennial Arena in Sydney with open gym time for players in every division.
Official tryouts are set to begin next week, but that didn’t stop dozens of kids from hitting the court and working on their game.
This week there was open gym time for both boys and girls in two different divisions, mini (grades 4–6) and bantam (grades 7–8).
Eli Tunnicliff, 12, from Sydney River, is a point guard who has already played in BCB’s mini boys league. He said he spent the summer working to adjust to the higher calibre of play offered on Basketball Cape Breton’s rep bantam team.
“In the summer I practised a lot and I was ready for this. I knew it was going to be different but I got ready for a lot in the summer,” said Tunnicliff. “It is a little different, but I’ll get used to it.”
On Wednesday, there were more 20 boys at both open sessions for the mini boys division and the bantam division — about the same amount as last year.
The league has been running since 2012 and has seen its numbers pick up since its inception.
Chris MacPhee, executive director for Basketball Cape Breton, said that the organization has been actively trying to spread the word to girls who play basketball because their numbers have been consistently lower than the boys divisions.
“We wanted to start early this year so we did have this initial week to help get the word out,” said MacPhee. “It’s also word of mouth with the girls. They’re talking at school and they can start telling their friends.”
With the Basketball Cape Breton League taking place during the same time period as elementary and junior high leagues, MacPhee said the games and practices are scheduled so there is little conflict between the two.
“We want to respect the coaches; they’re putting time in as volunteers with the school system, so we don’t want to make things difficult. We typically find out when they play their games,” said MacPhee. “With our teams, we’ll practise once a week. Typically, during school time, they’ll (the players) concentrate on school.”
Basketball Cape Breton has evolved into a year-round basketball league in recent years, with several divisions.
The organization now has teams in junior mini, mini, bantam, midget and juvenile as well as senior basketball. There is also a spring league for anyone who wants to play, regardless of skill. MacPhee said last year there were 600 kids playing in the league.
The bantam rep league for boys and girls that has tryouts next week is for high-calibre teams that pick only the best players. MacPhee said he expects about 40 boys to show up to tryouts for both the bantam and mini divisions. He’s also hoping the numbers for girls pick up from last year when there were under 20 girls trying out.
“It’s open for anyone in Cape
Breton — we want to have our 12 best players, no matter if they’re from Port Hawkesbury, Ingonish, New Waterford or Glace Bay,” said MacPhee. “If we have enough games and a coach, we’ll make a second team.”
The open sessions for Basketball Cape Breton continued this week with mini and bantam girls practising on Thursday and the boys lacing up for another practice on Friday.
Bill Kachafanas, coach of the bantam boys team for Basketball Cape Breton, runs drills with players hoping to make the team at the Centennial Arena in Sydney on Wednesday. The organization has booked open gym time this week to get the word out about the upcoming season and next week’s tryouts.
Ben Kearny, left, dribbles past half court as Eli Tunnicliff defends at the Centennial Arena in Sydney on Wednesday. Basketball Cape Breton has open gym time this week to get the word out about the upcoming season and tryouts next week.