Aaron Sampson shows off his best Steph Curry impression with a shot from deep. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

Aaron Sampson shows off his best Steph Curry impression with a shot from deep. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

Young athletes showing strides at Minor Basketball Mid Season Tourney

Plenty of progress since kids took to the court earlier this fall

Prince Rupert Minor Basketball’s Mid-Season Tourney took place last Saturday, giving kids in Grades 3-8 the chance to show off the skills they have been developing since classes began back in September.

Sponsored by Ridley Terminals, the tournament was an all-day affair that started at 9:30 a.m. and wrapped up eight hours later. There were four teams in each of the three grade levels — Grades 3-4, 5-6 and 7-8 — for a total of 12 overall. The different groups cycled play throughout the day, making sure all the kids stayed fresh and ready to attack the hoop.

Chucky McKay brings the ball up court during the PRMBA Mid Season Tourney. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

Bella Dixon and Allie Innes head back to the bench during a break in the action. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

Kevin Sawka, coach with PRMBA, in addition to his role as coach of the Charles Hays junior boys basketball team, coached a Grade 5/6 team and a Grade 7/8 team during the tournament. Sawka was pleased with much of the development he saw in the last few months.

“The kids are improving for sure,” Sawka said. “When you see everybody on the same page with a concept, it’s awesome. It really fills your boots.”

READ MORE: Footwork and fundamentals: minor basketball classes return to Prince Rupert

“Even something simple like a hard cut: it’s verbalized, a nice pass delivered in the pocket, and a sweep-and-go right out of that into a layup. All those variables meshing into one, it’s awesome,” Sawka added on seeing work in the practice sessions transition into games. “You can see them looking at you, and it’s not this blank stare like they don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re using that vocabulary that you’ve worked on in practice, and you can see the wheels turning and them making those connections.”

Cassandra Hunter races to the hoop during the double overtime thriller in the Grade 7/8 Girls final that capped off the tournament. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

Although it was a friendly tournament, there was no shortage of competitive spirit in the games, especially in the higher grade levels. This may have been most evident in the final game of the Grade 7/8 division, a hotly contested back and forth affair that went to double overtime before a victor was finally decided.

“The bigger challenge for more kids now is taking the skills and concepts that they’re learning in practice and getting better at, and then really trying to apply those to games,” Sawka explained on where he sees areas for improvement. “Once they’re put in the fire a little bit, old habits start to come forth quicker because that’s what they’ve done longer.” Sawka added he would like to see some more off-the-ball movement at certain times, and less reliance on dribbling dominated play.

The kids will now get back to practicing, with a chance to show their competitive edge again in a few months at PRMBA’s year-end tournament.

READ MORE: Arts, culture and sport get a boost in Prince Rupert


Alex Kurial | Sports Reporter
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