BAIE VERTE, NL — Isaac Lane has grown up playing basketball – and he has certainly done some growing along the way – and waiting for a moment like the one he hopes to have this weekend.
The six-foot-six centre for the Copper Ridge Academy boys basketball team will suit up at the Baie Verte Invitational this weekend and hopes to wow the home crowd en route to a championship.
The tournament, once a staple for western and central Newfoundland basketball teams for 28 years running, was revived last year after a 22-year hiatus.
Copper Ridge went 0-4 in that tournament, but was competitive in all games. None of those losses were by more than eight points and they led some matches for significant periods of time.
Despite the loss of some key players from last season, Lane is hoping the experience of last year’s tournament will lead to improvements in the win column this time around.
In fact, as one of the team leaders, he believes they have what it takes to compete for the title.
“I think we are going to make a good run for it,” Lane said. “We have improved through each game we played through our year.”
Copper Ridge travelled to Pasadena for an invitational tournament earlier this season. Coach John Kirby admits his team wasn’t quite ready for that level of basketball at that juncture of their season. However, the team recently played much better at a tournament in central involving several other teams that will be at the Baie Verte Invitational.
The big centre will be relied upon to rebound, block shots and contribute on the scoreboard. However, Lane says his team must be dedicated to the mental side of the game to be successful, while the physical game will be won on the defensive side of the ball.
“We have to keep our focus,” he said. “We have to keep our head in the game and play strong defence.”
Lane believes the tournament is great for the future of basketball in Baie Verte, and he hopes it will continue long after he graduates.
“It means a lot because we don’t have the opportunity to play a lot of tournaments or games in our hometown,” he said. “We usually travel a lot, so it means a lot to have a home crowd.”
Lane has been playing basketball since Grade 3 and enjoys sharing the court — whether in practice or during games — with his close friends. A Baie Verte Invitational championship in his final season would certainly add to that enjoyment.
Kirby expects the field of eight teams to be competitive. The increase in teams from five to eight in the tournament’s second year is a positive next step for rejuvenating the event, he said.
With six teams from outside the Baie Verte Peninsula — MSB Regional Academy from Middle Arm is also competing — Kirby said the tournament also offers the town a major financial boost.
He said accommodations are at capacity and visitors are expected to fill restaurants and other businesses throughout the weekend.
Such a tournament is also a huge lift to the school community, said Kirby, Copper Ridge Academy’s physical education teacher. He is hoping basketball played at this level continues to interest young school-aged students and eventually lead to a stronger program.
Establishing a feeder program, which Kirby acknowledges will require community volunteers and more gymnasium time, is key to the future of the sport, he said.
However, his focus remains on getting the most from the squad that will take to the floor in the tournament opener Friday at 3:30 p.m.
He said his team improved remarkably between its first and second tournaments of the season, which he hopes will carry over into its third.
“We just had a little bit more hustle and more grit from one tournament to the next and over the last two years,” Kirby said. “That was good to see.”
Baie Verte Invitational Schedule
3:30 p.m. — Copper Ridge Academy vs. MSB Regional Academy
5 p.m. — Pasadena Academy vs. Lakewood Academy
6:30 p.m. — Opening Ceremonies
7 p.m. — Indian River High vs. Elwood High
8:30 p.m. — Viking Trail Academy vs. New World Island
9 a.m. — Copper Ridge Academy vs. Elwood High
10:30 a.m. — Viking Trail Academy vs. Lakewood Academy
12:30 p.m. — Indian River High vs. MSB Regional Academy
2 p.m. — Pasadena Academy vs. New World Island
3:30 p.m. — Copper Ridge Academy vs. Indian River High
5:30 p.m. — Lakewood Academy vs. New World Island
7 p.m. — Elwood High vs. MSB Regional Academy
8:30 p.m. — Pasadena Academy vs. Viking Trail Academy
9 a.m. — 1st in Division A vs. 2nd in Division B
10: 30 p.m. — 1st in Division B vs. 2nd in Division A
1 p.m. — Championship Game