Rec basketball players rule round robin
FORT KENT, Maine — Two half-court buzzer-beaters, a plethora of steals and camaraderie to spare were among many highlights at a Fort Kent Parks and Recreation Department Round Robin basketball tournament at Fort Kent Elementary School on Thursday, March 9. The competition capped a season of rec basketball which included 64 kids from grade 3-6 comprising six teams all headed by volunteer coaches.
Two members of team Spurs shocked the audience of 80 or so spectators, by successfully sinking half-court shots at the final buzzer during the tournament.
Down by just one point and with three seconds on the clock, Spurs coach Robert St. Germain set the play, instructing sixth-grader Nathan Dionne to attempt the long shot for a chance at the win.
Dionne managed to sink the shot from just behind the half-court line, causing fans sitting on benches lining the gym’s perimeter to jump to their feet with exuberation.
Dionne explained how a conversation with the coach during a timeout led to the game-winning basket.
“He told me, ‘are you sure you can make it from there,’ and I said ‘yeah, I’m’ pretty sure that I can make it from there,” Dionne said. “I didn’t think I was gonna make it.”
The young man, who was able to pull off the buzzer-beater in front of his father, Rodney Dionne, said he felt proud after sinking the basket.
“I felt like I won us the game. I was happy,” he said.
During the last game of the evening, another Spurs player made a fantastic shot. With four seconds on the clock and his team about to take the ball out at the far end of the gym, St. Germain met with his players in the huddle. The coach called on Alex Nadeau to make the last-hope play, noting that Nadeau is also a sixth-grader and therefore in his last year of rec eligibility. Shooting from half-court, Nadeau’s ball also cleared the net much to the delight of his peers and audience members.
Two St. Agatha teams participated in the rec basketball program and were considered by many the ones to beat in the tournament due to the skills they displayed throughout the season.
One awed spectator likened St. Agatha Team One player Camden Pelletier to a “screen ninja” for his ability to maneuver around offensive players attempting to set up the blocking move.
Speedy feet and an indomitable drive were behind numerous steals Keegan Cyr of the Lakers successfully accomplished during the tournament, as well as a multitude of baskets.
Successful shots made from the three-point line and beyond are only scored two points in rec basketball, but it was clear at the tournament as well as throughout the season that Lakers player Ethan Daigle has developed a long-distance shot well beyond his age.
Bulls player Larissa Daigle displayed controlled dribbling skills as she fearlessly drove to the basket time and again for layups.
The rec program depends on volunteer coaches to keep it going, according to Director Ann Beaulieu.
St. Germain has coached three of his children in rec basketball as well as rec soccer, including his daughter Emily, 18, son Cameron, 15, and now daughter Harley, 10. He works for Fairpoint New England.
“I volunteer because it’s fun and I love watching kids grow in the sport. It gives me quality time with my daughter. To me this is like a sort of relaxation,” he said.
St. Germain said he enjoys attending high school games and witnessing the growth and skill development of players he coached in earlier days.
“The rec program is very important because it gives the kids at least a start and then you just watch them go from there,” he said.
“The kids experience fantastic fundamental skills and improvement within an eight-week program,” Beaulieu said. “The rec department has been able to give these kids a basic foundation of starting in these sports. Every sport has to start with a foundation and I think that’s what community rec has been able to do for these students.”
There is also a social component to rec sports programs which St. Germain said teaches students to be competitive while developing and maintaining friendships. Near the end of Thursday’s tournament, a group of kids wearing four different colored T-shirts representing four competing rec teams took some time to sit down together and relax and chat between rounds.
“That’s what I love, right there, when they’re all together,” St. Germain said.
Volunteer coaches included: Germain, Chad Cyr, Dakota Martin, Sylvia Martin, Dave Guerrette and Shane Durost.