You Can’t Slow Down Lightning

 

Taken from the New Glasgow News – January 16th 2015

TheNews-ng

It’s safe to say the Pictou County Basketball Association, in its second full year of existence, is rapidly turning into a tremendous success story. Close to 170 youngsters are now part of the association, playing a sport that is good for them in so many ways: it’s fun. (That’s the biggie – and who doesn’t like shooting a basketball at a hoop, especially from three-point range? You might make one in every 10 shots, but the one you did make allows you to say that you just did what Michael Jordan or Lebron James can do.)

Basketball also teaches teamwork, fitness, the value of hard work, and with a yearly registration of just $20 per child, it’s a steal in an age when twenty bucks doesn’t go very far (the association relies on its own fundraising, plus grants from all levels of government).

This is just an aside, and not something that is all that important, but all the teams are called the Pictou County Lightning, which I’ve always thought to be an awesome name. Whenever I see them bagging groceries while wearing their team jerseys, that’s what I think: such a cool nickname for a team.

The association has teams in Juvenile Minis (both boys and girls team with players under 10 years old), three Mini teams, (under 12, two girls teams, one boys team); three Bantam (under 14, two-girls teams, one boys team) and Midget boys and girls teams (under 16). They also plan on having Juvenile teams for kids under 18 once the school basketball season wind down.

Most of the practices take place at the NSCC campus gymnasium in Stellarton, but the association also gets gym time from the YMCA, as well as schools like New Glasgow Academy and G.R. Saunders Elementary School.

“We fully expect to have 15 teams by the time spring rolls around,” club president Allan Floyd said.

Today, two Pictou County teams are on the road to play in the 16-team Fall River Rebel Run Tournament, and as always, Go Lightning.

 

Read the New Glasgow News article here.

Players’ Enthusiasm Breathes Life into Basketball Program

 

Taken from the New Glasgow News – Jan 9th

(Rosalie MacEachern photo)

 

Allan Floyd’s passion for basketball developed in the stands, watching hisarticle_large daughters and their friends learning the game but he is now president of the rapidly-growing Pictou County Basketball Association.

You don’t have to be able to sink threes or grab the rim or dunk a ball to organize a thriving Pictou County basketball program for girls and boys.

Allan Floyd does not do any of the above but as president of the Pictou County Basketball Association he looks after registration, equipment, uniforms, insurance, funding, securing court times and a few dozen other important issues.

“I’m certainly not alone, I’ve got excellent people with me in the association,” he said.

In September 2013 the association began with 70 girls and boys and by the end of the season there were 120. Currently, there are 164 and Floyd expects to hit 200 before the season, which will likely run until the end of June, comes to an end.

“The ages run from four to 17 with most in the seven to 13 age range. Right now we have 51 per cent girls and 49 per cent boys and they are all developing their skills.”

Floyd grew up on an Antigonish County farm, where there was always work to be done, and never had the opportunity to play basketball. He graduated from St. Francis Xavier University with a degree in business and was immediately hired by Sobeys. He didn’t give basketball a thought until his oldest daughter expressed an interest in playing.

“She was very interested in music and it took us by surprise when she came home from A.G. Baillie saying she’d like to play basketball.”

Floyd and his wife, Carol, encouraged her to try out.

“We thought it was great for her to try something totally new but we didn’t realize how much fun she was going to have being part of a team. The relationships that developed between the girls and between their parents really amazed me. ”

That team did very well in county play but when they went to provincials it was soon clear they were not up to the level of play in other parts of the province.

“A few couples talked about that and we wondered what it would take to give our girls the opportunity to grow as players. We identified a few things but the issue sat on the back burner until Andy MacKay began coaching the girls in middle school. ”

Floyd described MacKay, who coaches the North Nova Education Centre girls team, as well as coaching within the association, as a dedicated and knowledgeable coach.

“Andy has a real interest in developing players as well as being competitive. Believe me, you can have as many administrators as you want but without strong coaches you can’t have a viable association.”

With that in mind, the association identified a need to develop coaches, as well as players.

“We recognized that coaches are volunteers and come from different backgrounds so we wanted to be able to provide training, to give them some help. We didn’t accomplish that in our first year but we did this season.”

The association organized two Basketball Nova Scotia weekend-long sessions for coaches and assistant coaches.

“The feedback has been very positive so we hope to be able to offer sessions again next year. Right now we’re blessed with people who really want to be good coaches.”

In keeping with its commitment to develop players, the association does not hold tryouts but instead offers a series of skills sessions in fall and spring and then evaluates players with a view to what level is appropriate for their skills.

“We recognize that basketball skills can develop late so it is important to teach kids to play various positions, not to have them get stuck in the first position they are put in. Everyone should get the chance to ball handle, play point guard or try a post position.”

In addition to attending his two daughters’ practices and games, Floyd sees all members of the association on the court.

“Early on I had to go to every session because we had so little equipment I had to bring in the balls from place to place. The plus side of that was I got to see kids of all ages learning new skills. The youngest kids would be just out there having fun while you could see some nervousness in the next age group and then the oldest kids were getting competitive.”

The association’s rapid growth has definitely brought some challenges but Floyd is looking confidently to the future.

“We’re keeping our registration fees low and making sure anyone who wants to play has the opportunity. Some executive members had to underwrite our costs in Year One but we’re treading water now and that’s not bad considering we’ve tripled our supplies and bought six new sets of Pictou County Lightning uniforms at about a thousand dollars a set.”

Floyd, who is currently director of workforce management with Sobeys, had more than 7,000 basketball-related emails in the past year.

 

Read the New Glasgow News article here.

Amongst the Province’s Best

 

Taken from the New Glasgow News – July 23 2014

By Christopher Cameron

 

Locals compete as members of provincial basketball program

If you want to be the best you have to beat the best.

Pictou County representatives from various Basketball Nova Scotia provincial teams pose for a photo this week in Carmichael Park. Back row from left: Riley Sood, Kendra MacKinnon and Aliyah Fraser. Front row: Katelyn Biron, Alyson Fulton and Lucia MacKay.

2014-07-23-04-06-03-NSGirlsFor six Pictou County girls they beat out a number of other players from around the province to make their respective Basketball Nova Scotia provincial teams. It’s not a walk in the park to make these squads and each one has made sure to use it as an experience to keep improving. Some were on teams in the past, while some made BNS teams for the first time.

Aliyah Fraser and Lucia MacKay made the U-14 squad this year, their first time playing on a provincial team. Their summer season is complete after playing Gold Rush, the Bluenose and Acadia’s Axewomen tournaments.

“I met lots of really nice people and made lots of friends I wouldn’t have met other ways,” said MacKay. “I learned how to play a flex offence, which is different from the pass-cut-fill offence I’ve always played. We also worked on ball handling, situations, and using time and space.”

Fraser said she improved her shooting and dribbling the most this summer after moving out of the post.

“I focused on ball handling and a bunch of different finishes,” she said. “We had a lot of fun and cheered each other on a lot.”

At the U-15 level Riley Sood was named to the competitive team, while Katelyn Biron played for the development squad. Biron and her team are done for the summer after competing in the Bluenose, Redrock and Summerfest tournaments.

“I really enjoyed getting to know people and make new friends,” said Biron, who was also a member of the U-14 team last summer. “We learned a lot skill-wise from the coaches this summer and worked on different defensive principles.”

Sood, who also played U-14 development and competitive basketball, will travel to Edmonton Thursday for nationals. In preparation, their team competed in the Bluenose and a tournament in Quebec.

“The chance to get to go to nationals is great,” she said. “It will be intense playing the top kids from all the big provinces. I’m also the youngest girl on the team so it’s exciting to play with the older girls.”

Locally, all four girls played for the Pictou County Lightning bantam and the New Glasgow Junior High ‘A’ teams this season. Although early in the development of the Lightning club program it has assisted all of them in developing into players for the provincial program.

The lone player on the U-16 squad was Kendra MacKinnon. This was her fourth year with Basketball Nova Scotia after playing U-14 and U-15 twice. She spent this year with the NNEC varsity girls program and will return next season.

“This summer I had to learn how to play a different position that I wasn’t comfortable playing during the year,” she said. “I was more in the post position than the wing, but it helped me improve my drive to the hoop. I also had the chance to learn how to play with different players and different skill sets, which makes you better.”

Alyson Fulton, the final county player on a provincial team, played U-17 basketball. This year she attended Halifax Grammar School. In the past Fulton played with U-14, U-15 and U-16 provincial teams.

She will also travel to Edmonton Thursday for nationals, her second trip to the big stage.

“You learn a lot of different intensities playing with the top players in the province against the top players from other provinces,” she said. “You see new levels of competitiveness that you might not have seen before.”

 

Read the New Glasgow News article here.

Lightning Strike Gold in Saint John

Published on December 4th, 2013 (NGNews)

The Pictou County Lightning bantam girl’s basketball team captured the KVBA Slammers Invitational Tournament in Saint John, N.B. this past weekend.

The tournament showcased top Division 1 bantam girl’s teams from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

In the opening game Pictou County defeated Riverview 38-36. Player of the game Riley Sood paced the Lightning with a double-double scoring 13 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Courtney Smith and Lucia MacKay chipped in with 10 and six points respectively. Sara O’Neil put in a solid effort at both ends of the court and was awarded the hustle award.

Against the Halifax Metro League leading Acadia Junior Axewomen in their second game, Pictou County lost to the Axewomen 53-47. Smith captured player of the game honours with 18 points and nine rebounds. Sood added 16 points, while Aliya Fraser played a solid game hauling in nine rebounds and was the hustle award winner.

They earned a trip to the tournament final with a 53-44 win over the Saint Margaret’s Bay Slam. Sood led the Lightning with 23 points, while Abbie Delaney was awarded player of the game with a strong 11-point performance. MacKay, the hustle award winner, and Smith each added six points.

The tournament championship saw a rematch between the Lightning and the top-ranked Junior Axewomen, which the Lightning won 55-51.

Sood was awarded the player of the game award with 32 points and 10 rebounds. Smith contributed 10 points and Delaney scored six, including key free throws in the final minutes. MacKay earned the hustle award with her tenuous defence.

Coach Andy MacKay and assistant coach Lyndsay MacKinnon said they were proud of the contribution from all of the players and the solid team approach throughout the tournament.

This was the first tournament championship for the newly formed Pictou County Lightning Basketball Club.

Lightning Continue Win Streak

Published on October 21, 2013 (NGNews)

article

The Pictou County Lightning bantam girl’s team continued their winning streak with a couple of wins Sunday morning against the Truro CBA Tigers.

They have now played three games, winning all of them, which is impressive as the competitive bantam girl’s team is the first team this season to play and represent the Pictou County Basketball Association.

Their win streak started Oct. 9 when they defeated Antigonish 57-28. Scoring for Lightning were: Riley Sood (27), Katelyn Biron (10), Lucia MacKay (6), Jordyn MacMillian (4), Courtney Smith (4), Sabrina Snyder (3), Abbie Delaney (2) and Hailey Fahie with one.

On Sunday they won back-to-back games against the CBA Tigers from Truro, 49-22 and 68-6.

Scoring for Lightning in the two games were: Sood (31), Smith (19), Biron (16), Fraser (11), MacMillian (10), MacKay (8), Delaney (8), Snyder (8), O’Neil (4) and Fahie with two.

This Sunday the team will be in Bedford to play two of the top contenders in Metro, the Bedford Eagles and East Preston, who are both Division 1 teams.

Girl’s Basketball Numbers Continue to Grow

Christopher Cameron

Published on September 17, 2013 (NGNews)

 

NEW GLASGOW – Anne Armstrong has only been involved with basketball in Pictou County for the last four years, but said she’s witnessed nothing but positive growth.

In the summer program that she is involved with there are 28 kids involved in two separate groups, on top of 24 kids from grades 4-6 who are involved in their open gym sessions.

“I think there’s a pretty big movement of people that want to coach and want to get the kids involved and make it fun for them,” she said. “For the season of the sport itself, if you aren’t involved with hockey there are not a lot of other things for girls to participate in for a team sport. You can go snowboarding or something along those lines, but not an actual team sport.”

Armstrong, a coach and former player, is currently the head coach of the North Nova girls basketball team. With the help of Andy MacKay, the head coach of the girls team at New Glasgow Junior High, they are currently running training sessions each week at NNEC on Tuesday nights from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. They are free and are meant to work on players conditioning, skills and game play.

“Well we take the summer off with our club program – after the end of July we might play once,” she said. “We just like to get the kids in the gym and keep them active. We took an eight-week hiatus and now we’re back in the gym to get everyone prepared for their tryouts basically.”

Although she coaches at North Nova and the training sessions are held there, with kids from all three high schools and various junior highs involved. The focus is on improving Pictou County players as a whole.

“I’ve always been part of programs that once you stop competing against each other that you want your area to do the best that they can do,” said Armstrong. “If we can develop programs and a few kids from Pictou Academy, for instance, want to come and that helps them win a regional banner, that’s terrific. It’s the same with Northumberland if we can help improve players in the county and help them bring a regional banner to the area and grow the sport even more.”

Armstrong continued by saying that having the girls from throughout the county come together for the training sessions or for the summer program it helps improve the fundamentals in players from various programs, which will in turn help those schools improve as their own group, hopefully gaining more interest.

“It’s great for us because what it allows us to do is it allows the kids to develop fundamentals all in the same way, so their base is really strong,” she said. “As they continue to grow and develop it strengthens all the high school programs, which we’ve definitely seen in the last two years that I’ve been coaching here. We’re gaining a reputation of a program that’s developing and growing and the kids are improving in their skill level.”

 

 

christopher.cameron@ngnews.ca

On Twitter: @NGNewsChris

MacKinnon Helps N.S. Win U-15 Bronze Medal

Christopher Cameron

Published on August 20, 2013 (NGNews)

LYONS BROOK – It wasn’t her first time on the big stage, but it was the first major win as a member of a provincial basketball team.MVC-017F
Kendra MacKinnon helped Team Nova Scotia win bronze recently at the Canada Basketball National U-15 Championship in St. John’s, Nfld. The team defeated Saskatchewan 59-50.

“It was an amazing feeling to win that game because we’re such a small province and usually it’s teams like Ontario, B.C. and Quebec that win,” she said. “I don’t think anyone expected us to do it, but we were just prepared for whatever team we faced and didn’t get intimidated by anyone by just playing our game.”

This was MacKinnon’s second year with the U-15 team at the national event after attending in 2012 in Fredericton, N.B. where the team finished fifth. This season only two players were returning to the roster, MacKinnon and Ariele Provo. She was also the only member of Team Nova Scotia from not only Pictou County, but northern Nova Scotia.

Being one of the only returnees it meant there were bigger shoes for the forward to fill. MacKinnon played more minutes and was looked to more as a leader on and off the court. She said one of the reasons she felt she was selected for the team was her shooting, in particular her 3-point range and her height.

“Last year helped me with the event this year just because I had the experience and was nowhere near as nervous,” she said. “I was glad to make the team again this year and think it will help me moving into high school.”

Having played for Pictou Academy the last few seasons, MacKinnon is preparing for this winter with the North Nova Gryphons. She said she’s excited to join Anne Armstrong’s women’s team and learn from her over the season.

“I’m just going to listen to her throughout the year and make sure I’m doing what she wants me to do so I can improve,” said MacKinnon. “I’ve had her as a coach before and she has helped me out a lot.”

This summer with the U-15 team she also had great coaching with Scott Munro from the Saint Mary’s Huskies women’s basketball team at the helm. MacKinnon said she believes he made the difference in the team finishing third this year instead of fifth.

“He was really good at what he did and knew the fundamentals, but also really did a good job at making us work as a team – he was the best coach I’ve had in awhile,” she said. “I think the way he brought us together made the difference with where we finished, but last year Jamie was great too. He did a really good job, but Scott just found a way to bring this year’s group together.”

MacKinnon’s end goal is to play university basketball, but before that she has a few other things she wants to accomplish. This year she hopes to have a successful high school season with North Nova and make next summer’s U-17 provincial team.

“To do that (make U-17 team) I just need to keep going at it all year,” she said. “I usually take a few weeks off at the end of August before I get back into it. I really don’t stop playing because I love basketball and always want to be playing.”

christopher.cameron@ngnews.ca

On Twitter: @NGNewsChris

Annual General Meeting

This Thursday night (Oct 16th) we will have our Annual General Meeting, anyone and everyone is invited to attend. One of the missions will be to gather some volunteers to fill a few committees that will help to support the clubs efforts. See you there.

Certified Coaches

The coaches of The Pictou County Lightning Basketball Club begin the process of official certification this weekend. This process will take some of our coaches 2-3 full weekends to complete. This process should vault the quality of the whole organization to new levels.

End of the Skills Sessions

The end of the skills sessions has come and groups will now be formed into competitive teams where possible. Coaches are being arranged where needed and team lists and practice times will be made available as soon as possible. Check back soon!