Without question, the popularity of basketball has taken off in Six Nations.
This past season, Six Nations sports fans witnessed sports history as they packed the Dajoh: Youth and Elders Centre in anticipation to watch the expansion Six Nations Rising Stars U12, U14 and U17 teams make their basketball debut.
Rising Stars Academy’s own Matt King, who acted as head coach for all three teams, was full of high praise when reflecting on his team’s overall accomplishments, starting with the U12 team who showed drastic season long improvements.
“I saw them score more and they were able to make more layups,” King said. “In the first game they only had six points, but in the final game they had 40 points. They were also turning the ball over less.” Overall, the U12 Six Nations basketball team, which had 11 boys and 1 girl, finished the season with a respectable 2-2 record.
“The focus is having them understand the basics, rules, and teamwork,” King said. In getting game experience, the U12’s played games against teams from three regions of Haldimand, Norfolk and Hamilton.
With the U12 and U14 Six Nations teams, the season went from September to March where they not only played games but also had some intense, fun practices.
“Every practice we had a game,” King said. “We want to make it fun. If you put in the practice, you’ll see improvement and that’s what I saw.”
Meanwhile the U14 Six Nations squad, who were also comprised of 11 guys and 1 girl, posted a 2-7 record, but were playing against players who had three or four years of basketball playing experience.
“I saw big improvement and saw lots of potential,” King said. “We have a lot of good athletes and I’m really looking forward to next season.”
According to King, a definite high point came in February when the Six Nations U14 team squeezed out an emotional 33-32 win against Norfolk. What made this so emotional was the fact that a few months earlier in November they dropped a 45-25 decision against the same team.
“It was so nice to see that improvement,” King said. “I was super happy and the kids were really excited. It was just exhibition but the kids celebrated like they won a championship and it was just awesome to see. They competed and worked hard,” King said.
Unfortunately for the U17 team, with the team holding a 4-5 record, their season was officially cut short due to COVID-19 .
“We were definitely disappointed,” King said. “We had talent and I think a lot of potential. The season was supposed to go until June, and it’s just to bad they lost the season. They were supposed to play another 20 games.”
The U17 squad, also thrilled the Dajoh: Youth and Elders Centre crowd by making it to the Rez Hoops semi-finals before losing to Niagara.
“This year we had close to 50 players with the youngest being in Grade 4 and oldest Grade 12,” King said about the three Six Nations teams. “There is definitely an interest at Six Nations and New Credit in basketball.”