NEW WATERFORD: It was their first visit to the Coal Bowl, and the SAERC Saints turned the heads of everyone in attendance as they managed to make it all the way to the championship game.
“It was almost surreal,” said coach Jason Seymour. “I knew my boys were good, and I knew they would come together and play like they did, but I didn’t know when they would. They came together at the right time and at the right tournament.
“The experience was just unbelievable. The kids were over the moon, and they handled the pressure so well. I asked Cameron MacDougall if he was nervous, and he said ‘I got this, coach.’ That was in the semi-final game, and I know I was nervous.”
The championship game was decided last Saturday, and Holy Trinity Catholic High School provided SAERC’s opposition. The final was 72-51 in Holy Trinity’s favour.
“At halftime, it was only 26-23, so we weren’t out of it at all,” Seymour said. In the fourth quarter, they put the pressure on and we ran out of gas. We couldn’t hold them off.
“Before the game I told them, win or lose, they are all a bunch of incredible kids. I wouldn’t have changed a thing over that week with them.”
Making it to the championship was no easy road, as the Coal Bowl is touted as one of Canada’s elite-level tournaments.
The Saints lost only once in preliminaries and, as in the championship, it was Holy Trinity who got the drop on them. Last Thursday, the Saints lost to Holy Trinity 84-69.
In the Saints’ other preliminary games, the green and white put together a flawless performance that started with a Monday win over Memorial (68-52), a Wednesday win over Yarmouth (53-47), and a Friday win over Avon View (63-53). In a semi-final qualifier, Hants North came close to beating the Saints, but SAERC pulled out a 67-63 win.
“We were just happy being asked to come to the Coal Bowl, so I didn’t really have too many expectations. I think that helped us. We were the underdog all week, but we proved the Saints are the real deal.
“Everyone was playing great, and we had a couple players make the all star teams. Matthew Reynolds made the first all star team, and Cameron MacDougall was a second team all star.
“The kids really bonded over the week. We ate breakfast together, we ate lunch together, we ate supper together. It was a team-building opportunity, but we also met some people from across Nova Scotia and the country.
“I think the boys made some life-long friends.”