Some of Vancouver Island’s best young basketball players are heading to Ucluelet this weekend.
Ucluelet Secondary School will host its third annual two-day Basketball on the Edge tournament and skills competition on Friday andSaturday and USS Warriors’ team manager Jason Sam is hoping to see a big showing of support from the home crowd.
“It would be great if the community came out,” he said. “We have some boys from various teams that can do some pretty amazing things…There’s some really good quality basketball.”
The tournament’s first game will tip-off on Friday at 1 p.m. And the Warriors hope to be playing in Saturday night’s 7 p.m. final matchup.
Sam launched the Basketball on the Edge tournament in 2015 in an effort to cut down on his players’ travel-time while also offering localsan opportunity to see its talented young athletes shine.
“For our boys, it’s a chance to to showcase the good things they’re doing and the healthy choices they’re making,” he said.
He said the tournament has taken off since its inaugural year thanks to a dedicated team of volunteers that ensure it runs smoothly as wellas the scenic landscape it draws players and families to.
“We have the world famous Wild Pacific Trail, Long Beach and it’s during storm watching season,” he said noting last year’s tournament saw a heavy storm crash massive waves onto Big Beach, much to the delight of visiting athletes.
“People were amazed they could hear the ocean from the gym, which is pretty cool.”
He said more teams signed up for this year’s event than could be accommodated so, for the first time, the tournament has a wait-list.
“It’s out there now that we host some good basketball and it’s a beautiful place to come for two days,” he said adding that, with most of the Single-A teams on the Island competing, the tournament will provide a solid foreshadowing of the Island Championships, which will behosted in Ucluelet this spring. “This is kind of our feel-out about what the Island Championships will be like.”
Ucluelet last hosted the Island Championship three years ago, which was also the last time the team reached the Provincial Championships.
The high school basketball season started on Nov. 27 and Sam said the Warrior’s look to be a strong provincial contender this year.
“We’ve got a solid crew of boys that have played together since the last time we were at provincials,” he said adding Ucluelet was one of theyoungest teams at 2015’s tournament with four grade 9 players on the squad. “The four grade 9’s that we took are all grade 12’s now andhave played together in pretty much every game since then so they’re a strong core of kids that we can build around.”
He said getting involved with athletics helps keep students healthy while encouraging them to focus on academics as all players must keepup with their courses to be allowed on the court.
“It keeps them healthy and keeps them active,” he said adding some weeks can be around 10 hours of physical activity a week for nearly fivemonths. “Academically it gives them responsibility. They have to do academics before athletics. You can’t get into college if you’re failing, so you can’t go play college ball.”
Winter weather prevented some teams from competing last year, but the current sunshine suggests this weekend’s Basketball on the Edge showdown should see a full complement of teams.