PORT HAWKESBURY: For the second straight year, the Strait Area Heat claimed the Cape Breton Midget Basketball title.
“When we started this group of kids four or five years ago, we never won a game,” said coach Doug MacKenzie. “I don’t think we got inside of 20 points of anybody, but to win it back to back the last two years and not lose a game this year is a tribute to the kids.
“Out of the 12 who were there this year, eight or nine have been together since day one. It’s been the same team for the last few years except for a few new faces.
“They certainly believe in each other.”
The first year the team formed, the players combined for Bantam play. Coach MacKenzie said the squad went 0-10 that year – a far cry from the 12-0 season the team managed in 2018.
The final game of this season came down to a showdown between the Heat and the Sydney Thunder. The final score was 78-69, but there were times – particularly in the second half – when the Heat was battling to stay on top.
“I figured we could beat them if we played smart because they were a little loose on defense and that was our stalwart,” the coach said. “When things got tough, I figured we could buckle down and turn it around. It was a four or five-point game for much of the second half. They’d hit a couple of threes, and we’d do a couple things.
“They never got the lead on us, but there were a couple times I looked at the clock and thought, okay, what do we got to do to push this out.
“The final score was 78-69, but you wouldn’t know it for a few minutes there.”
The second consecutive championship left the players feeling great, MacKenzie said, and he added that those players able to return next season are anxious to get on the court.