SACKVILLE, N.B. – If anybody felt that lightning never strikes twice in the same place they should talk to head coach Austin Carter of the Sackville Bantam Titans or his assistants, Frank Oulton and Alan Atkinson.
Yes, the young squad enjoyed a relatively successful campaign – running up a 19 victory, nine loss record. But fire and brimstone struck during the playoffs for the provincial championship, which took place on March 17 and 18 at the Fredericton YMCA.
The scrappy Sackville five disposed of Miramichi and the Fredericton Tier II Team, advancing to the third round when hard luck dogged them for the remainder of the tournament.
“We were up against Florenceville and the score changed hands many times. With just six seconds remaining and Florenceville up by two coach Carter set up a play that worked beautifully – we got the ball to our best player, he put it up and we watched it roll around the rim and then fall harmlessly to the floor – resulting in our first defeat,” said Atkinson as he replayed the series in his head.
Then in the next match for the bronze, the two teams, Grand Falls and Sackville, turned into another battle. The Titans got off the mark slowly and trailed by 10 but then jelled and put on a rush.
“We were up by three but with time running out they connected on a long three-pointer to send us to overtime,” recalled Carter. “Then in the extra period they edged us 41-40 and . . . we packed up and came home.”
Although this was his first year as head coach in Sackville, Carter – a second year student at Mount Allison – had coached in his home town of Enfield, N.S., where he had also played with his high school team.
He recalled that he was recruited to head up the Titans by Atkinson and Oulton during their regular noontime games at Mount Allison. Oulton said there had been real concern that nobody would step forward and he is happy they could find such a capable individual to volunteer.
Carter said he thoroughly enjoyed his time with the under 14 boys as he got to meet their parents and developed some fine relationships.
“The parents were really great,” said Carter. “They not only provided transportation for the boys but treated me very nicely and I now feel part of Sackville – actually I come from a small community so it has been easy to transition.”
By assuming a volunteer role in the community Carter joins literally hundreds of students making an impact in improving the life style in the community. They can be found at nursing homes, the hospital, churches, working with scouts and participating in a variety of other activities.
Meanwhile, 11 of the 13-member team will be moving on due to age. Some will be joining the Tantramar Titans and others will play at the midget level, and Carter says he will probably go along with them and coach at that level.
The team consisted of 13-age-group players, including Ethan Cormier, Ethan Doherty, Blake Dauvin, Lucas Patterson, Sebastian Kelly Ayer, Luc Swanson,
Harrison Hicks, Joshua Weinberg Fillmore, Brett Holmes, Ian Trenholm, Bergen Fraser, William Fillmore and Jordan Bedard.
The trio of coaches concluded that Swanson and Fraser were the team leaders and could have a shot at making the Tantramar Titans in the fall. They also agreed that Ethan Doherty was the most improved player, adding that Harrison Hicks proved to be an excellent point guard with plenty of hustle.
So, unless there is a good turnover from the peewee program the bantam team could be hard pressed to floor another contender this year, having just two returnees from this year.
That is what occasionally happen – things seem to go in cycles and this is obviously one of those.
But basketball has been a viable sport in Sackville since the mid 1960s when Wayne MacKay launched a minor program at the Community Playground and it is likely to continue well into the future.
However, it would help if some interested parents would step forward to take on an executive role, thus easily the heavy load being carried by president Tasha MacKenzie.