So far things are not looking promising for the boys and girls 15-and-under basketball teams as they compete in the 2008 U15 Girls and Boys National Championships in Kamloops, BC.
On Thursday, with each team having completed its first four games, neither picked up a win, being outscored by more than 80 points in a handful of contests.
“We don’t have the same size and quickness as some of the other provinces, because they have a lot more athletes to draw from,” said Team Yukon’s boys’ coach Tyler Bradford.
“But our boys are playing with a huge level of enthusiasm and playing with a lot of intensity … and that’s all we can ask of them.”
Although it was not their closest game in terms of points, the Yukon boys put up one of their better fights Thursday in a 119-40 loss to New Brunswick.
Finding their game early on, Yukon led for the first eight minutes, going up by as much as six points.
“We came out of the gate fantastically,” said Bradford. “New Brunswick is a big team and they eventually got the better of us, but that happens.
“They had a strong press, but we broke it most of the time,” added Bradford. “It’s tough getting by those bigger guys.”
Jake Jacobs led Yukon with 12 points, while teammate Riley Simpson-Fowler did his part with 11.
Team Yukon’s boys began the tournament Tuesday with an 87-30 loss to one of the smaller teams, Newfoundland.
“They boys were feeling their way out, getting used to the high level of competition here,” said Bradford. “It’s a national competition so it’s an elite level of competition here.”
At half, Newfoundland was up 45-14, giving the impression that Yukon failed to raise its game. However, Bradford doesn’t see it that way.
“The score would make it seem that way, but our intensity greatly improved as the game progressed.”
On Tuesday evening, Yukon fell to Quebec 114-25, after a dismal first half that ended 76-11.
“They have a huge team and they’re very quick,” said Bradford, of the Quebec team.
In their only game Wednesday, Yukon’s boys lost 99-11 to British Columbia.
“We’re not focusing on the scores here,” said Bradford. “We set goals when we left, knowing that the level of competition here would be pretty high and probably beyond us. So we set out a priority of goals and to be honest we’re meeting a lot of those goals with our defence intensity.
“For me as a coach and my team — and I’m sure for Sean McCarron’s girls’ team — we’re really trying to focus on the positives we’re getting being here,” said Bradford.
“We want to take some of our goals and smaller victories that we get and build on those as a team.”
Girls’ team improves
with every game
The round robin schedule at the Nationals was not as generous on the girls’ side.
Yukon began by facing two of the toughest teams the tournament had to offer, losing 100-11 against Ontario and 90-19 against British Columbia Tuesday.
Although losing two more games through Thursday, the point spreads were not as dramatic. Wednesday Yukon fell 68-15 to New Brunswick and then 89-27 to Manitoba on Thursday morning.
“Every game we play we feel like we’re improving the way we’re playing,” said Yukon girls’ head coach Sean McCarron. “We’ve improved in almost every statistical category throughout the games. We’re making fewer mistakes, passing the ball much better.
“The trouble with our team is that we’re physically much smaller than the other teams here at the Nationals,” said McCarron.
“If there’s one comment I’ve heard, even the referees and other coaches, it is that our girls are working hard from the beginning of the game until the end, and are using this opportunity to learn.”
Both teams will be vying for ninth-place finishes Friday in their final games. The girls will be facing Saskatchewan and the boys will be taking on the winner of a game Thursday evening between Nova Scotia and Manitoba.
“It’ll be tough,” said McCarron, speaking of his team’s final game against Saskatchewan. “There’s some big girls on that team.”