Woodstock – Members of the Grand Manan Mini Breakers got to do something Monday they could hardly wait for.
Raise the coveted provincial banner in the gymnasium of the Grand Manan Community School.
The Breakers went undefeated in Basketball New Brunswick’s Under 12 Division 6 Provincial Championships in Woodstock at the end of February to win gold.
In the opening game, the Mini Breakers edged the Sackville Titans 34-32. In game two, the squad cruised to a 40-27 victory over the NMBA Lions of Fredericton.
Later, the Mini Breakers finished with another strong result, this time over the host, the Woodstock Thunder.
Advancing to the final, the Mini Breakers had a rematch with the Lions, and defeated their opponent 33-27.
Despite a strong result over the Lions earlier in the tournament, the Breakers headed into halftime with an eight point deficit.
Recounting the final, coach Nigel Russell said he could tell his team was nervous at halftime, but after speaking with them during the break, the girls came out ready to win in the second half.
“I told them that it was better to be down than ahead, because the team that’s ahead doesn’t want it as bad as the team that’s behind.
“And the girls came out more fired up really for the second half, and we clawed back into it, and won it in the last couple shifts.”
With a laugh, Russell, who took over as coach in January, said the season has been an “interesting” one. He said the girls struggled in the beginning of the season, but said after a while, the squad started to gel, and play as a team.
“The girls came a long ways in a short time. It’s my first time coaching basketball; I’ve played for a long time, and I’ve never coached girls either,” Russell laughed, and added he couldn’t have done it without the help of his assistant coach Robyn McLaughlin.
“The girls bought into my theory, and they played well, and worked hard at practices, and they really changed their season.”
Russell gave praise to his team for their ability to turn their season around, and bring home a banner.
“(They) kept fighting back, never giving up. (They) learned how to become a team and there was some girls out there learning to become leaders. This was so fun to be a part of.
“Now every time (the girls) go into our gym, (they) get to look up and see our banner, and hopefully many more.”