Basketball season doesn’t necessarily have to end.
Some of the city’s top young b-ball players get to continue to play the sport all summer long now that they’ve made the provincial team.
Max Reed, Tyus Barfoot, Olivia Mjaaland and Madeline Hart are all participating in Basketball B.C.’s high-performance program this summer.
Reed, from Dover Bay, is on the U15 team; Barfoot from Nanaimo District Secondary School is on the U16 squad; Wellington’s Mjaaland is on the U15 team and Dover’s Hart is playing with the U14s.
The teens had to make it through a tryout process to earn their spots.
“I put a lot of hard work into basketball, so it’s kind of nice,” said Reed. “It’s a reward.”
The program is intensive. Players have been travelling to the Fraser Valley on weekends for practices, and now that school is done, they’ll squeeze in even more practices plus tournaments around the continent. Depending on their divisions, the athletes will play tourneys in Seattle, Spokane, Las Vegas, Edmonton and St. John’s, Nfld. over the next six weeks.
Barfoot said the U16 team’s practices have been good so far. Compared to high school basketball, practice is more high-calibre, more intense and longer.
“It’s definitely a lot harder but it’s good,” he said. “It helps improve your skills and it’s a good surrounding … With the type of calibre you’re playing, you pick up a lot of stuff around the kids you’re with.”
Reed and Barfoot have already seen the benefits of Basketball B.C.’s high-performance program, as they both played with provincial teams last summer, too. Afterward, Barfoot was able to jump up and play a central role with the senior AA NDSS Islanders as a Grade 10, while Reed was an all-star at Grade 9 provincials with the Dover Bay Dolphins.
They’re getting used to fierce competition, and they can expect more of it as they tip off in the U.S. this month.
“You want to get a win, win all the tournaments,” said Reed. “[But] a lot of it’s just about the experience and getting better as a player.”
And that should lead to victories, this summer and beyond.
“It’s always a big part of it, to win,” Barfoot said. “But it’s definitely a big part to improve your skills and notice how you’ve improved throughout the summer.”