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Northern Collegiate, Lambton College to host OFSAA Boys’ AAA Basketball Championships

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Tara Jeffrey

The Northern Vikings Senior Boys’ basketball team will be a part of history next month, taking part in the OFSAA Boys’ ‘AAA’ Championships as Sarnia hosts the event for the first time.

“The community is excited; we’re pumped and ready to go,” said convenor and longtime coach Chris Jones, who submitted the bid to host the championships, featuring the best of the best in Ontario high school basketball. “It’s a three-year process, and we knew this would be a really strong group, even the younger players are really good.

“They’re a strong team and they have a legitimate shot.”

The March 6-8 tournament, hosted by Northern Collegiate and Lambton College, takes place at both gymnasiums, beginning with a banquet at the Dante Club on the Sunday, welcoming 18 teams to Sarnia.

“This is really cool for Sarnia-Lambton — we’ve never hosted OFSAA boys’ basketball at the highest level,” said Jones, pointing to the ‘AA’ OFSAA boys’ finals held in Sarnia back in 1982. “It’s hard to get; we’re a smaller centre. So this is a big deal.”

More than 50 volunteers are lined up to help coordinate the event, Jones said, highlighting the city’s tight-knit basketball community. The schedule includes 11 games on Monday, March 6; 16 games on Tuesday, March 7; and seven games on March 8.

“We’ve got former players, coaches and teachers — it’s neat to see the circle of life,” said Jones, who was a supply teacher at St. Patrick’s in 1991 when he started coaching alongside Barry Howson, a legendary local athlete and Canadian Olympian who also happened to be his old high school coach. He’s also worked closely with local basketball titan John Thrasher at Northern.

“All of these great people jumping back in to help… the support from the community in planning this event has been tremendous,” he added. “It really is a labour of love.”

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