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NKEC basketball future looks strong as young team captures tournament win

Head coach Eric MacMillan is pretty pleased about Northeast Kings Titans performance at the Winter Classic hosted at the Canning school last weekend.

The varsity team – made up of the school’s 12 top Grade 10-12 players – had an undefeated record at the tournament.

Against New Germany, NKEC won 70-53, with Riley Comeau leading the charge for the Titans with 21 points to open the tournament. He was also the top scorer in the final game, where he netted 28 points en route to NKEC’s 60-55 victory over Millwood.

NKEC also defeated Barrington 76-40, with Cameron Oickle leading scoring for the Titans with 17 points.

“Riley and Cameron are both tall, athletic kids – Riley is about six-foot-two and Cameron’s about six-foot-three – and they both played really well, definitely,” MacMillan said. “They want to play, they want to win, and they showed that. I’m pretty pleased with them all. They’re teenage boys, they want to win, but they listen really well and a coach couldn’t ask for more than that.”

Competition at the senior level was stiff, especially against Millwood, which is one of the only Division 2 schools in the Halifax area and, as a result, often plays up a level against Division 1 opponents.

“They did well against Millwood and it made them see that they can get in there and compete,” said MacMillan. “At halftime, they looked at me and said, ‘We can take on any team here’.”

And that’s just what he wants to see in his players – confidence as they move on with the season, which will include a number of upcoming road trips for tournaments, including a trip to the Clary Laing Classic at West Kings in Auburn this weekend and a trip to the CK Gator Fest in mid-January, where they will see some play against divisional rivals.

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Junior varsity action

The junior varsity team, also made up of players from Grade 10-12, fought hard at the tournament but weren’t able to capture a win.

The junior Titans lost their first game against West Kings 76-72, with Mark Corkum adding 14 points to the losing effort, then dropped a Dec. 9 game to Avon View 77-40, with Noah Steadman leading NKEC’s scoring. NKEC then dropped a 52-21 decision to Park View, which went on to win the junior varsity championships with a perfect record.

With the tournament beginning during school hours, most of the students at NKEC had the opportunity to watch some of the action.

“There were 400 in the gym – it was standing room only – and it was a bit disconcerting for some of the players,” MacMillan said. “One of them turned to me and said, ‘I’ve never played before more than 75 people before.’ But the students came out to show support and we came out slow to start, but really played a good game.”

Strong future for basketball at NKEC

Overall, MacMillan says, both teams are quite strong. All of the students interested in playing basketball this season tried out together and the top players were picked for the senior and junior teams.

“We were doing a happy dance at tryouts,” MacMillan said. “We had a lot of tall kids, athletic kids, who were tying out. We’re a young team – one-third of the (senior) team is in Grade 9, and only three returning players – so we’re really in good shape looking forward.”

NKEC principal Kevin Veinot, who is well known in the Valley for his own basketball skills, is coaching the junior varsity team, and MacMillan couldn’t be happier.

“Kevin has a very good basketball resume and he wanted to take on the junior varsity team. He’s starting with the fundamentals because some of these kids have never played on a team before or haven’t had a lot of basketball experience. The learning curve is steeper for them than the kids I have in the senior program,” MacMillan explained. “There are two or three little guards who know basketball, who know how to move the ball forward, but they just haven’t grown into their skills yet.”

For MacMillan, who was sidelined along with his students during last year’s work-to-rule, which cancelled most of the high school sports seasons, being back on the court feels pretty good.

“One of the great things about NKEC’s teams is that most of our teams are coached by teachers,” he said. “We missed coaching last year, and from a teacher’s perspective I certainly understand why, but we’re really excited to be back to coaching this year and I’m really excited to have this group of kids.”


Did you know?

Other local teams in the junior varsity division were from Avon View in Windsor and West Kings in Auburn.

In addition to WK’s win over NKEC, the junior Wolverines had two losses – 77-33 to Park View and 88-28 to Avon View.

Avon View’s only loss came at the hands of Park View, which won 62-58 and swept the tournament.

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