By John DeCoste
A solid season continued for the Central Kings D-2 boys’ basketball team with a win at their own Gator Basketball Festival Jan. 11-12 in Cambridge.
NKEC, Eastern Shore, Hants North, East Antigonish and Breton joined the host Gators in the tournament, which consisted of a round robin, followed by fifth- and third-place games and the championship.
NKEC and Central Kings met in the tournament opener. In contrast to their 67-66 nailbiter in league play earlier in the week, this time the Gators, according to coach Rodney Sabean, “looked ready to play from the opening tip-off” of a 65-46 victory.
Nigel Simmons led the way for the Gators with 28 points and 18 rebounds. Trent Oickle added 19 points and eight boards.
In their second game of the day, CK faced Hants North and their strong perimeter game. The Gators, in Sabean’s words, ”worked very hard on defence, and seemed to be everywhere at times,” all while being very efficient on the offensive end.
The final buzzer saw Central Kings ahead 69-56, with Simmons (19 points, 14 rebounds), Kurt Getson (15 points) and Brian Sawler (10 points) leading the scoring. Sawler sparked a fast start with a pair of early three-pointers.
The two wins advanced the Gators to the championship game the following day against East Antigonish, which had defeated Eastern Shore 64-44 and Breton 60-57 in the round robin on their side of the draw.
Again, CK “came to play” and ended up with a 75-55 victory. The Gators’ “hard-working team defence set the tone” and was the deciding factor in the game.
Trent Oickle stepped up and had a huge game for CK with 35 points and 12 rebounds, earning himself tournament MVP honours. Getson finished with 18 points, Jonah Leschied 10 points and Simmons had eight points and 12 boards.
NKEC topped Eastern Shore 84-56 in the fifth-place game, and in the third-place game, Breton edged Hants North 76-72
At the opening ceremony, the tournament was officially named the first annual Stan MacVicar Gator Basketball Festival in recognition of “all the years our former coach and #1 fan, Stan MacVicar, has given to our program.”
The Central Kings girls’ team, meanwhile, spent the weekend at a tournament at West Kings, where they won three and lost one.
In their opener, CK topped Millwood 72-45, with Mallorie Cornelius scoring 18 and Serena Dolan 15. In a 60-36 win over Bathurst, N.B., Dolan had 16 points and Kennedy Curry 14.
In their third game Jan. 12, the Gators dropped a 54-27 decision to Middleton. Rachel Meister had seven points for CK, and Dakota Bundy and Cornelius six apiece.
Central Kings also played West Kings and scored a 63-35 win. Emily Lamb finished with 14 points for CK, and Brooke Wagner, Cornelius and Bundy all had 10.