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Impact hosting midget boys Ontario Cup basketball tournament
Posted: May 22nd, 2014 @ 4:22pm
By CLAUDE SCILLEY
There wasn't a lot of experience standing in front of him when Brett Walsh gathered his players together for their first practice as the Kingston Impact.
Four of them had never played rep basketball before. A few others had played, but never at this high a level. Most missed all of their high school season a year ago, as teachers worked to rule.
"At the start of the season, not too many people were giving them a chance to play at a very high level," Walsh said, "but through their hard work they've really developed their confidence and their sense of what they need to do on the court."
As a result, the coach believes the Impact is ready for its Ontario Cup boys under-16 championship tournament, a three-day, 83-team, 11-division extravaganza being held in Kingston this weekend.
"It's a pretty good step up for them," Walsh said. "It looks like everybody's pretty focused and they're pretty excited to play in their own backyard against some pretty tough competition."
The Impact will open its tournament against Oakville at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Bews Gym at Queen's University, where all of the Division 6 games will be played. Teams are seeded by Ontario Basketball according to their record in sanctioned tournament play throughout the winter. Division 6 comprises the eight teams ranked 41st through 48th in Ontario and Kingston, 13-8 to date, is ranked seventh within the division.
That seeding probably does the team a disservice, Walsh suggested. His team has faced two of the other teams in the division during the season, losing to fifth-seeded Gloucester 62-51 early in the year, but beating top-seeded Guelph by three points three weekends ago.
Confidence, Walsh said, is the biggest element of the team's improvement, and that has led to better defensive play and communication on the court.
"Their basketball IQ has gotten better as well," he said, "but specifically speaking - anything it takes a group of guys to do, they've become much better at that. Maybe the individual stuff has improved a little bit as the season's gone on, but more than anything it's been the team stuff, team defence, team rebounding, all that kind of thing has really improved."
Walsh said it's encouraging to see the hard work being put down in practice manifesting itself in competition.
"You can see the light bulb click on over the heads of some of these kids when they realize their hard work is getting them places and finding success for them, especially for a group of kids that doesn't have a lot of experience.
"It's a group of great kids who respond well to criticism and coaching. They just love playing basketball and they're all getting better. It's nice to see them realize some of the things they can do on the court."
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