By Paul Shaffner
High school basketball fans from all parts of the province will descend on Middleton on Febbruary 28 to March 2 as Middleton Regional High School hosts the NSSAF Division 2 Boys Basketball Provincial Championships.
The teams include Regional winners Central Kings, Amherst, and Millwood, along with qualifiers Northeast Kings Education Centre, Dr. J.H. Gillis Regional, Breton Education Centre, and host Middleton Regional. In all there are 12 games of sparkling, fast-paced high school boys basketball.
The tournament tip-off is at 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28 in the MRHS gym. A second game at 4 p.m. is followed by the official opening ceremony at 5:30 p.m. A nightcap double-header completes the first round of games at 6 and 8 p.m., with Middleton’s Thursday game in the 6 p.m. slot.
Action continues Friday afternoon with consolation games among Thursday's losing teams at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Semifinals go Friday night at 6 and 8 p.m. The Saturday schedule sets the game for 7th place at 9 a.m., for 5th place at 11 a.m., for the bronze at 1 p.m, and the championship final at 3 p.m., followed by the awards presentation.
Middleton, a Division 2 Provincial finalist the past two years, comes to the table this time around with a roster shorn of any seniors. Among the young Monarchs’ achievements this season were top place at the West Kings Invitational Tournament, finalists at the Bridgewater New Year’s Classic, and runner-up in the recent Western Regional by which Middleton earned their bye. Middleton’s attack is buoyed up by the rugged inside play of second-year forward Ryan Gates, augmented by the robust scoring of speedy point guard Sean Lachance. First year Monarchs’ coach Mike Mason also calls on Grade 11s Colton Richards, Zach Beaton, and Stephen Bennett for staunch all-court contributions. A corps of fast-improving Grade 10s provide a spark off the bench.
Regardless of their seeding the Monarchs will be gunning for a first-round win in the 6 p.m. game Thursday night to open the road for gaining a medal on their home court.
#2 Central Kings vs. #7 Dr. JH Gillis at 2:00 p.m.
#1 Amherst vs. #8 Millwood at 4:00 p.m.
#4 Middleton vs. #5 KES at 6:00 p.m.
#3 BEC vs. #6 NKEC at 8:00 p.m.
Loser (1 vs. 8) vs. Loser (4 vs. 5) at 2:00 p.m.
Loser (2 vs. 7) vs. Loser (3 vs. 6) at 4:00 p.m.
Semi-Final - Winner (2 vs. 7) vs. Winner (3 vs. 6) at 6:00 p.m.
Semi-Final - Winner (1 vs. 8) vs. Winner (4 vs. 5) at 8:00 p.m.
Losers of Friday afternoon game for 7th place at 9:00 a.m.
Winners of Friday afternoon games for 5th place at 11:00 a.m.
Losers of Friday evening games for 3rd place at 1:00 p.m.
Championship Game at 3:00 p.m.