Saint Andrews – The Sir James Dunn Academy Algonquins girls and boys basketball teams are slated to host the annual Basketball By The Sea tournament at the school this weekend.
Each division will have four teams – on the girls side, the Algonquins will host St. Stephen (returning champions), Tobique Valley and Oromocto, the boys (who won the banner last year) will host Grand Manan, Hartland, and North & South Esk Regional. For both Algonquins teams it will be their first games of the season.
Joe Ticotsky is coaching the girls team this year – in the last four years he has visited the town from Connecticut to help with the basketball program, but this is the first time he will stay for the duration of the season to coach.
Megan Cross, who graduated from SJDA last year, will also help as an assistant. Cross is the daughter of Alison Cross, the longtime girls coach who hung up her coach’s hat last season.
The girls team will play in an exhibition league this year, and are returning a handful of players. The squad had its first practice on Friday.
“It’s nice to see the returning kids – they seem to have retained a lot of the stuff they were taught last year,” Ticotsky said in an interview following the practice.
“I told them after practice today, this is a lot different than after the first practice two years ago when I walked outside and called my friend, and said ‘what did I get myself into’.” Ticotsky joked.
“Really you can tell they’ve picked up a lot of things, the terminology and drills and trying different things, so as a coach, that’s really great to see.”
The players on both teams have an incredible attitude toward the sport, Ticotsky said, and are “really easy to coach” which makes trips to the town all the more enjoyable.
“It’s that much easier when you don’t have to worry about work ethic or attitude. Every day they come to the gym with a joy for the game.”
Basketball culture is something that is growing in the town – on senior’s night last season, in a double header with the boys and girls teams, the gymnasium was packed to the brim – one of the largest crowds at an SJDA basketball game the school had seen in at least five years.It’s something Ticotsky said he hopes to see grow even more.
“It’s nice – there’s also a good connection with the boys and girls teams. Evan (McFarlane, boys coach) has been really welcoming, so once in a while I’ll pop into the boys practices and they’ve really taken it to the next level in terms of making the playoffs. No disrespect to hockey, but we’re turning into a basketball town a little bit,” Ticotsky laughed.
This is something McFarlane, who’s been the head coach of the boys team now for four years, agreed with.
“I certainly notice the difference in the past few years of being involved. More kids are interested and going and far as to training together throughout the summer to get better.
“Not only kids are interested, but even the town folk are checking in to see how we are doing. The town has taken notice that the program is building, and we have seen the return from the support we receive. It’s a pretty exciting time for our team.”
McFarlane said the tournament will serve as a great test for the team – the core of which is comprised of Grade 10 students. Though young, he said he felt the squad is capable of competing.
“We’ve had a few really good weeks of practice and we are all looking forward to seeing the gains of our hard work. Their confidence is only going to increase as we go. Win or lose, I just want to see effort to execute the plan we have in place.”
Games for the Basketball By The Sea tournament are slated to begin Saturday at 9 a.m., with preliminary play resuming Sunday morning, before the finals the same day.
The girls final is slated to take place at 3:30 p.m., while the boys final is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. A silent auction will also be available during the tournament.
Saturday, Nov. 18
9 a.m. (Girls) – SJDA vs. St. Stephen
12:30 p.m. (Boys) – Grand Manan vs. SJDA
4 p.m. (Girls) – Oromocto vs. St. Stephen
5:45 p.m. (Boys) – Grand Manan vs. Hartland
7:15 p.m. (Girls) – SJDA vs. Tobique Valley
8:45 p.m. (Boys) – North & South Esk Regional vs. SJDA
Sunday, Nov. 19
8:30 a.m. (Girls) – St. Stephen vs. Tobique Valley
10:15 a.m. (Boys) – Grand Manan vs. NESR
12 p.m. (Girls) – Oromocto vs. SJDA
1:45 p.m. (Boys) – Hartland vs. SJDA
3:30 p.m. – Girls championship game
5:15 p.m. – Boys championship game