Foursome to represent Alberta on hard court
By: By Glenn Cook
| Posted: Wednesday, Jul 06, 2011 06:00 am
St. Albert will be well represented at a pair of upcoming high-level basketball tournaments.
Two players from the city will be on provincial teams that will compete at the U15 and U17 national championships at Humber College in Toronto, Ont. Aug. 1 to 6, while two more will fly Alberta’s flag at the Western Canada Summer Games in Kamloops, B.C., Aug 5 to 9.
Tyler Wise, 16, who is heading into Grade 12 at Paul Kane High School this fall, will be playing forward for the U17 team at nationals. He said that, after being one of the last three cuts from the team last year, he was motivated to show the coaches how much he had improved his defence and quickness.
“I went out and tried my best, but they had some things they wanted me to work on,” he said. “So I used that as motivation and incorporated that into my game this year and it worked out for me.”
The six-foot-five, 190-pound small forward expects the competition at nationals to be tough, but thinks Team Alberta is up to the challenge.
“Last year they had a fifth-place finish, I believe, so we’re looking to improve on that this year,” Wise said.
“I think our top competition will come from B.C. and Ontario, but I’m not sure,” he added. “It’ll be a learning experience for me, being a first-time player on the team.”
That experience is something Wise hopes to bring back to Paul Kane next year to help push the Blues to the next level.
“Getting to play with some of the better players around the province will be really good for me to grow as a player and bring it back to Paul Kane,” he said.
Meanwhile, Jacob Laxdal — whose family just moved from Morinville to St. Albert so he can participate in Paul Kane’s basketball program when he enters Grade 10 this fall — will be playing a division lower in Toronto after making Alberta’s U15 team.
The six-foot-three, 185-pound power forward played on the Zone 5 Alberta Summer Games’ team last year, but this is his first time representing Alberta.
“Going in, I was pretty confident I was going to make it, but when I found out, I couldn’t even compare it to anything I’ve made before,” he said.
The team has had a few practices so far and Laxdal said they have been pretty intense.
“I’ve practiced with them so far for nine hours and that was one of the hardest nine-hour practices I’ve had,” he said, adding that the team will practice six hours a day, five days a week, until they head to Toronto.
Laxdal’s decision to go to Paul Kane had a lot to do with head coach Rick Stanley, he said.
“I heard so much about [Stanley’s] coaching and I just heard the boys on the team were great to work around to get yourself up there,” he said.
While Wise and Laxdal are busy in Toronto, two other St. Albertans will be hitting the hard court in Kamloops, both on the same team. Zane Warren and Andrew Salcedo both made Team Alberta and will compete at the Western Canada Summer Games.
Warren said he hopes to see some improvement in his game by the time the tournament is over.
“Hopefully it’s better than I am so I can get better,” said the 14-year-old who will also start Grade 10 at Paul Kane this fall. “It’s tough competition, but hopefully we can win.”
And having a good friend like Salcedo there with him should make fitting in a lot easier.
“We played on the same team for two years so I know Andrew pretty well,” he said.
Salcedo, 14, is entering Grade 9 in the fall at Richard S. Fowler Junior High School. This is his first time trying out for Team Alberta and he was thrilled to make it.
“I was pretty blown away,” he said. “With all the guys there and all the coaching staff, it was pretty exciting.”
And he feels like Alberta has a good shot at winning in Kamloops.
“I think we have a fairly strong team this year, just from who was there [at tryouts] and how they played,” Salcedo said. “I think we can do pretty well.”