As students return back to school after the Christmas holidays, we look ahead at the Ladysmith Secondary School (LSS) 49ers senior boys’ and girls’ basketball seasons.
Randy Steel has coached Ladysmith 49ers basketball for a long time, but this year he’s seeing something completely new.
“It’s hard to bring two teams together. It’s actually really hard to do,” he said. “This is the first time I’ve ever tried this.”
Two-thirds of the roster this year are players who used to attend Cedar Community Secondary School.
“They had a system last year that they were running, and then we’re trying to run our system that we run at Ladysmith,” he said. “So it’s actually been a bit of a challenge, but the kids have been really good.”
Point guard Nick Hayton is the go-to guy, and forward Kurt Olson and centre Raury Lancaster will be other impact players.
With a roster of all Grade 12s, a long-term build doesn’t make sense, Steel said. So the 49ers will keep things simple and rely on their basketball fundamentals, skills and smarts.
The coach said the team will need quality practices to improve, and pointed out that attending practice is a considerable commute for the Cedar kids. Their commitment should be rewarded, though, with a fun season, he said.
“We’ll have some good, close games this year,” said Steel. “The league is strong, so it’s good for us because we get good, quality league games every time we come out.”
The 49ers host the John Barsby Blazers tonight (Jan. 6) at 7 p.m.
A new group of girls has helped bring basketball back at LSS.
There was no senior girls’ team at the school last season, but thanks to a roster of mostly Cedar teens, the program has been revived. Daryl Rodgers, an LSS alumnus, is coach of the 49ers girls.
“I know it’s kind of died away in the last couple of years, but maybe we can revitalize the basketball program here again and make it like it used to be,” he said.
There is a junior girls’ program at the school, which bodes well for the future, but the present will be challenging. Since there was no team last year, some players have little to no experience playing basketball.
The team will rely on Marika Grubac and Shelby Dorman-Banks at both ends of the court, as well as Kelsey Hutt, who works hard and hustles on defence. Darby Rae is another Grade 12 who will contribute.
The 49ers visit the NDSS Islanders today (Jan. 6) at 5 p.m.