By Kirk Starratt
The stars of Valley high school basketball teams showcased their skills while raising money to help others achieve their athletic goals last week.
Central Kings Rural High School in Cambridge hosted the first Valley All-Star game on March 9, featuring players from Middleton, Horton, Northeast Kings, Kings-Edgehill, Avon View, Central Kings and West Kings. There was also a shooting stars challenge, a point guard skills competition, a three-point shootout and a dunk contest featuring the top high school basketball players.
Central Kings Grade 12 student Trent Oickle is in his fourth year with the Gators. In addition to playing with the Coldbrook Foodland All-Stars in the game, he competed in the shooting stars challenge and the dunk competition. He said he liked the idea of having a Valley All-Star game for high school basketball.
“This is the first time a lot of people have got together to do something like this,” Oickle said.
Oickle said the game and all the competitions leading up to it would be great for basketball in general in the Valley, as well as being a great community event. He said the younger kids were particularly enjoying it.
Although Team Central Kings came out with a great score to start the shooting stars challenge, they were beat out beat out by Team Northeast Kings and Team Horton, who both advanced to the final. In the end, it was Northeast Kings (Greg MacDonald, Andrew Chase and Sarah Scott) that took the championship.
In the point guard skills competition, Gage Sabean (Horton, Grade 9) and Dylan Poole (Central Kings, Grade 12), both posted times of 24 seconds to advance to the final.
In the final, Sabean finished the course in 25 seconds, besting Poole's time of 29 seconds to win the championship. Sabean was perfect in both rounds, completing every pass and shot without a single miss, while moving quickly through the course.
In the three-point competition, all shooters struggled to put up good scores in the first round. Stephen Bennett of Middleton Regional High School finished the first round in first place, scoring nine out of a possible 24 points. However, Bennett could not carry his shooting touch into the final, where he lost to eventual champion, Brett Dickie of Horton High School, who put up a score of 12 to run away with it.
Dickie said the competition was a lot of fun. He said he was a little nervous at first, but soon overcame the opening jitters.
“Everybody (in the competition) can shoot, so it felt great,” he said about his victory. “I got more comfortable after I did the first rack.”
The day’s events were headlined by a dunk contest, evaluated by five judges, including Mount Allison Head Basketball Coach Duane Starratt and Dal Agricultural College Head Basketball Coach Bill Findlay.
Oickle ended up winning the dunk contest after an impressive final dunk. Starting in the right corner, Oickle tossed himself a high arching lob, ran baseline, caught the ball mid-way through a 180 spin and powered it through the hoop. The crowd went crazy and all five judges instantly put up scores of 10, for a total score of 50.
In the final game, which matched players from the seven participating teams, saw the Foodland All-Stars win over the Mi’kmaq Ice All-Stars 109-108 in front of a full house. Alex Thomas (Horton), who played on the Foodland team, took home most valuable player honours, with 33 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds and six steals. Ryan Gates (MRHS) was the leading rebounder for the Mi’kmaq team, pulling down 20 boards on the night.
Valley All-Star game president Jalen Sabean said he’s definitely hoping the event becomes an annual tradition. The event organizer and former Central Kings Gator is already looking for sponsors for next year’s game and competitions. He said there was a lot of support and participation, especially considering this was the first year.
The event was a fundraiser for the KidSport Foundation, which helps alleviate financial barriers facing some children that might otherwise prevent them from getting involved in organized sports.
“It’s going very well money-wise,” Sabean said. “I think we’ll do well off attendance and the canteen and the sponsors came through with a lot.”
He said it made sense to him to use the event to help raise funds for KidSport. The players showcasing their skills on the court play at a high level, so using that to help others achieve the same goals was a good fit. In total, more than $1,000 was raised during the day.