Low local virus rate draws basketballers to Lambton

Low COVID rates and a top-notch basketball facilty at Lambton College, seen here, are drawing new players to Sarnia. Troy Shantz file photo

Troy Shantz

Sarnia’s relatively low COVID-19 case count is having an unexpected and positive impact on Lambton College’s basketball program.

As many as five new recruits will join the men’s squad in the new year, many of them drawn because restrictions in larger cities have shut down their basketball leagues and practices, said coach James Grant.

“Toronto is on lockdown. We’ve safely had basketball here for going on three months now,” said Grant.

“Basketball is a tight knit community and the word gets out that you’ve got this beautiful gym… and a community that’s kind of stayed safe.”

The Ontario College Athletics Association has cancelled its fall and winter sports. But practices and workouts haven’t missed a beat at Lambton College, with both the men’s and women’s squads preparing for unsanctioned non-league matches in 2021, Grant said.

With traditional recruitment suspended, many eligible players are seeking out teams to train with, Grant said. Among the new players found via social media is Mikey Reynolds, a six-foot-seven forward.

Mikey Reynolds

Reynolds is in his final year at Halifax Prep school and plans to move to Sarnia in the New Year and play for the Lions next fall, Grant said.

He will be the tallest player on the roster, and he’s only 17.

“That is huge for us, having a guy that big come in, be 17, and hopefully (have) a number of years with us.”

Reynolds, who plans to study child and youth worker or health sciences, said his first visit to Sarnia sealed the deal.

“Lambton in general felt like home to me, the coaching staff, the team itself, the facility, even Sarnia itself when I came down for a visit,” the Scarborough native said.

Prospective players continue to contact Lambton on social media, Grant said, noting digital recruitment has been “weird but good.

“It’s been helpful that Sarnia has done so well with COVID that training is a possibility.”