East Coast Round up – February Basketball, Playing For Keeps
Watching teams compete for Championships is awesome and we have to wait until the month of March to see teams host Provincial Championships, Conference Championships, and National Championships. But February is the month that sets the stage.
February Basketball has every team in the Nation fighting for position and the games no matter what a teams record, have major significance. The conference front runners have to compete against the ever hungry basement dwellers who are fighting for their season’s life. Every loose ball, every free throw, every possession becomes ever important in determining the results.
Teams and players know this and u just don’t see athletes or coaches taking anything for granted. Its all about securing their spot and the right to compete for a championship through the path their league play has awarded.
Atlantic University Basketball once again has produced a balanced and intriguing season thus far and there is much to be determined over the last 5 or 6 league games.
The University of New Brunswick have showed to this point they are the cream of the crop and behind the leadership of Javon Masters and Will McPhee look poised to secure the #1 spot for the AUS playoffs and a first round bye. The Varsity Reds sit with a record of 12-3 and 32 pts, 6 ahead of #2 UPEI.
These two teams do battle on Saturday February 7th in Fredericton and the 4pt game will basically determine if UNB walks away with the #1 seed or if UPEI can close the gap and make a run at he top spot.
As the rest of the league coaches and followers watch for results each weekend everyone may be secretly cheering for the Varsity Reds in this game as a win by the Reds keeps Dalhousie (7-6, 20pts), Cape Breton (7-8, 20pts) and Saint Mary’s (7-6, 18pts) within striking distance of the much coveted second place league finish and first round playoff bye.
In the meantime, Memorial (5-9, 14pts) who just got a two-game sweep and 8pts in the standings from St FX to go from 8th to 6th will continue to slug it out with Acadia (4-10, 10pts) and St FX (4-11, 10pts).
East Coast High School Hoops
In High School Hoops the formats are different from Region to Region and Province to province but the season has clearly showed who the prominent teams are and who is chasing them.
New Brunswick – The top team Is The Kennebecasis Valley Crusaders. The Crusaders are loaded with skilled players throughout their entire roster and their depth and balance will surely be needed as they fight off competitors. Ben Tait (2015), Ethan O’Neil (2015) and Jack Tiley (2016) will be responsible for leading the Crusaders through Regional play and to the Provincial Banner.
Fredericton High is a very good team but its fate may rest solely in the hands of Carleton commit Stanley Mayambo. Yes the Black Kats have talent outside of Mayambo but this sleek lightning quick athletic PG is the centerpiece of everything that happens in all phases of the game.
Leo Hayes has a very strong roster and are led by Val Nelson (2015) and Leyu Titarenko (2016). Both players are exceptional talents and more than capable of leading their team to the top of the heap.
Prince Edward Island – I’m not going to claim that I have extensive knowledge of PEI basketball but I do know enough to know that Charlottetown Rural behind the sharp passing/shooting of 6’1 PG Jack MacAulay are the team to beat. This is one of the top high school basketball programs on the east coast and you can look for this team to add to its legacy.
Nova Scotia – Due to the shrinking population and that most rural schools dropping to the Division two and lower levels, NS basketball is all about the metro region (exceptions Horton and Cobequid).
At 9-0 in league play and a point differential of 27.1pts/game the Citadel Phoenix have been steamrolling teams. Tyler Martin (2015) has been leading the way for a very balanced Citadel team that just keeps coming. The Phoenix have only lost twice this year. In the opening weekend to Horton High when they were missing 6 players to football and to Auburn in early December. If I were doing brackets I would pen this team in the Metro League Final.
Auburn High – Led by a trio of stars in the back court Johneil Johnson (2015), Levi Smith III (2015) and Dakelle Brooks (2016) the Eagles are a smooth functioning team. The Eagles went through some major emotional issues in January with the passing of a teammates parent but you can bet these strong and talented young men will be pushing for a Metro League Championship. Look for them to regain their prowess and meet Citadel in another explosive Metro League Final.
Prince Andrew High – Led by Ben Kidston (2015) and Eli Krausher (2016) the Panthers sit in second place in the Metro League at 7-1 and will surely secure a first round bye in Metro league playoffs and push to at minimum the league semi finals. This team has the ability to knock off the above mentioned teams so the playoffs will be well worth watching.
CP Allen Cheetah’s – a team that has surprised many this season as they sit at 6-2 and 4th place in the league. Not because they aren’t talented but because they were playing without one of High Schools best players 2016 PG Chris Towle. In his absence Logan MacGilivray a sharp shooting 2015 guard and 2017 wing Alex Muise have been sensational for the Cheetah’s. The Cheatah’s who play both ends of the floor well will have Towle back and are a scary looking team.
Halifax Grammar – 3rd place in the league at 7-3 and as young teams have quietly worked themselves into a possible first round playoff bye. A very scary team moving into the playoff picture behind the Colpitts twins 2017, Vernelle Johnson 2017 and senior guard Raheem Johnson this squad will make some serious noise.
Outside of Metro Horton and Cobequid await the results and keep working on victories to establish seeding position. Cobequid is hosting so they are in provincials but are seeking high seeding as 6-7 forward Chris Fitzgerald rounds out his high school career. Horton’s wait is different as they win there region by default as there are no other Div 1 teams. Gage Sabean (2016) and teammates await Metro results to see where and who they will play in a Provincial Qualifying tournament.
The picture is clear as mud and each and every team will surely enjoy working their way through the mud to determine their playoff positioning.
What About Newfoundland?
Newfoundland we see you!
This is a region rich in basketball passion and love for the game. Basketball is growing rapidly on “the rock.”
Stay tuned on North Pole Hoops as we dig deeper into Newfoundland basketball!