Woodstock Hoopfest

Thursday, July 5, 2007
 This past weekend I was in Woodstock for the 2nd annual Hoopfest tournament. For those who don’t know, Luke Flemming (WHS) has been instrumental in organizing a tournament for the four BNB men’s teams. Not only has Luke been able to attract some great teams but the community has also stepped forward to run a first class tournament including a free BBQ for players, coaches, refs and parents; door prizes; and a silent auction. Proceeds from the tournament go towards the BNB teams to help off set the player’s training cost.

Of course, there was a strong showing from the Saint John area at this year’s tournament with eight players participating on the four BNB teams. The big star from this area was Simon Marr (St. Macs) who was arguably the best big man in the tournament. During the games against the BNB U16 and NB U17 teams Simon was a huge presence on defense changing shots, tipping passes and leading the team in rebounding.

Jared Mabey (St. Macs) was probably the biggest surprise for me at the tournament. Jared didn’t receive as many minutes as some of the other big men on the U17 team but when he was in the game the NB boys definitely played with a lot more energy. If Jared continues to play the physical style of defense he demonstrated against Quebec and hits the offensive glass like he did, the U17 coaches will have no choice but to play him more.

The other Saint John area member of the U17 team is Brent Kingston (KVHS). Brent seems to be struggling with his role in the team’s offense but he’s still shooting a very high percentage, especially from behind the arc and, after Simon Marr, is the team’s second best rebounder. Once Brent adjusts to his role in the offense and can tighten up his perimeter defense (which I know he will) look for Brent to be a huge contributor with this team.

The BNB U16 team competed in the juvenile division with the U17 teams from NB, NS, and QC. As expected the team didn’t win any games but they competed much better than even I had hoped, holding their own with the NB U17 for three quarters and losing to NS U17 by six during the round robin. Ryan Vaughan (KVHS) looks to be working his way up in the rotation after a very strong effort against the NB U17 boys. During that game Ryan hit a couple of long jumpers and was very active on the boards. During the Quebec game Ryan provided a solid post presence on offense despite the considerable size difference QC had over NB.

Brad Van Steeg (Rothesay High) also had a strong tournament. Brad’s outside shooting and defensive rebounding helped keep NB close for three quarters against NB U17. Against the NS U17 team during the round robin, Brad was involved in several keys plays down the stretch as NB pulled within 2 points with less than a minute to play.

In the midget division the NB U15 teams was led to the championship by a couple of local players. Simon Gagnon (KVHS) has been starting at the point guard position all summer and looks very comfortable running the team. His defense continues to be excellent and his outside shooting continues to improve. Look for Simon to have a great tournament at Nationals.

Adam Spurrell (QMS/KVHS) continues to impress everyone who sees him play. Not only is he starting for the U15 team at the small forward position, but on many occasions he is being asked to guard the other team’s best player. Like most young players Adam needs to improve his outside shooting, but his court sense, athletic ability and rebounding make him tough match up for the other team.

The U15 Developmental team, like the U16 team, wasn’t expected to win many games but that didn’t seem to matter to the young squad. In fact, they almost pull off the upset of the tournament, losing to the NB U15 team but only three points during round robin play. Tom Lutes (Rothesay High) looks to have made the transition from school ball to provincial team very nicely. His combination of low post moves and mid range shooting presents match up problems for the other team and his play making abilities looked to be improving as well.

Overall it was a great weekend of Saint Jon area players. I look forward to seeing them all again in two weeks for SummerFest as they get to play in front of their home town fans.