It was much like another day at the office for the men’s basketball Titans during the regular seasons as they posted a convincing 7-1 record in divisional play but came up short against provincial champion Woodstock in the regional playoffs held here in Sackville.
Second year coach Jock Gemmell said Woodstock has built a very strong team and could continue to dominate for years to come. However, the Titans remained close and finally succumbed by a nine-point margin. A year earlier the Titans were perfect during the season with an 8-0 mark but again went down to Rothesay in the first round.
Gemmell, a former All-Canadian defensive half with the Mounties and a former high school basketball star in Ontario, has enjoyed his two seasons at the helm and would love to continue well into the future. However, he is still substitute teaching at Tantramar and his future there depends entirely on the hiring process. His assistant, Greg Mareenick, was formerly a member of the national champion St. Francis Xavier X-men led by veteran coach Steve Konchalski.
Not only does Gemmell hope to return. He would love to have his assistant back, saying Mareenick will be coaching somewhere regardless of his location as he dearly loves the game and is so knowledgeable.
What will next year’s team look like? In other words will be able to live up to the standards established during the past two seasons?
Well, for starters, four key players will have moved on, some perhaps performing at the college level. Those leaving will include Jesse Wheaton, Isaiah Marr, Jordan Butcher and Steve Patriquin. It is noted that Marr and Butcher were divisional all-stars while Butcher was MVP in the NE section.
But Gemmell says a particularly strong core of veterans will be returning to lead the charge and among this leadership squad will be Joshua Becker, Liam MacDougall, Nick Rossignol and Dylan Banks.
Of course Tantramar can always count on some newcomers who have received sound training in either the Sackville minor system or from the Port Elgin basketball mill. It is not unusual to see the two communities equally represented in the Titan colours. From the early days when Henry Davis began one of the most successful programs there has been a regular flow of young men from the Murray Corner, Bayfield, Port Elgin area flowing into Tantramar.
Gemmell says the boys seem to quickly adapt to the systems he has introduced, especially by those in their second season. And he feels, if the current coaching staff is returned, Tantramar will have a system in place for some time. With a lack of height he has found it necessary to utilize the talent available and so they attempt to control the tempo and play tough defense. This has worked magically so far and she sees no reason it won’t continue.
Support for the team all season was outstanding with good crowds at the league games and full houses for the playoffs. This simply proves that a competitive team will enjoy such support in this community but it falls off when fans sense not all is well and the players are not giving their all.
In addition to their regular season, the Titans hosted the annual Tantramar Invitational Christmas tournament, where they finished in the runner-up spot and went 1-1 in the huge Irving Classic in Moncton. They also dropped a pair of exhibitions to the Amherst High School Vikings by close scores.
Gemmell believes the team in 2014-15 will be competitive again, even though a lack of height could prove to be a problem. There will be good players in the post position, which is a key and fans will see a lot of half-court sets. And he feels the current coaching staff has grown with the team as they have gotten to know and understand the young men they mentor.
And again the team will be competing with Sugarloaf of Campbellton, Bathurst, Bonar Law of Rexton and J. M.A Armstrong of Salisbury in the Northeast Division.
Basketball at the high school level came of age following completion of the Tantramar High School in the early 1970s and it was only at this time the Titans recorded their first win ever over Moncton High. This was made possible by the merging of players from Dorchester, Port Elgin and Sackville, and this venture has proven a successful one for much of the past 45 years.